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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 partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of MASTER OF ARTS in the Department THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA AUGUST 1950 The Concept of Nature in the Poetry  of Alfred. Tennyson and. George Meredith by James Stuart Stone ABSTRACT OF THESIS Following a general hi s t o r i c a l discussion of the idea of nature, the study continues with an analysis of the main sources for Tennyson's-nature, concept.... He-re some stress is put upon the temperament of - the-poet as well as upon his s c i e n t i f i c , philosophical and religious 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 in 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 different moods of the poet. The conclusion arrived at i s that, no matter what mood he was in, Tennyson viewed nature with suspicion. His-attempts to embrace pantheism or to escape actuality through mysticism, transcendentalism, or romantic primitivism indicated his failure to reconcile his idea of nature with religious beliefs that demanded personal immortality and absolute morality for man. Because of these emotional needs, Tennyson, especially after the publication of Darwin's sc i e n t i f i c treatises on evolution, was forced into a dualism that separated moral (or spiritual) man from a vast, cruel, 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 is a v i t a l , benevolent being that includes man and God in a unity of the real and ideal worlds. Because Meredith avoided the contradictions that science and Kantian transcendentalism introduced into Tennyson's philosophy, he was able to attain to a conception of the creative and ethical oneness of Earth. Hence he could use Darwinism to c l a r i f y his basically Goethian concept of nature, for 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 in essential humanity. Meredith could rejoice i n the struggle of l i f e , which he saw as a struggle for balance and not for exis-tence, because he had from the beginning accepted nature as a beneficent Earth to whose operations man must adjust himself. The last chapter discusses the different approaches of Tennyson and Meredith to nature, their attitudes to nature's law, and their ideas concerning man's place in nature. One argument resulting from this comparison is that Tennyson, applying Kant's transcendental theories and his own emotional reactions to his scientific 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, for Meredith's belief in altruism and co-operation being the primary law of nature is supported by certain present-day biological and sociological theories. TABLE OF CONTENTS Page I BACKGROUND: -GENERAL CONCEPTS OF NATURE (800-1900) 1 II THE FORMATIVE INFLUENCES UPON TENNYSON'S CONCEPT OF NATURE 2 4 III TENNYSON'S CONCEPT OF NATURE AS SEEN IN HIS POETRY 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 in Tennyson: Summary IV MEREDITH'S CONCEPT OF NATURE 91 A. Chrysalis period - up to 1 & 5 9 B. First impact of Darwinism ( 1 8 5 9 - 1 8 7 1 ) C. Meredith's mature concept of nature V A COMPARISON OF THE CONCEPTS OF NATURE IN MEREDITH AND TENNYSON THAT INCLUDES AN. ESTIMATE OF THE RELATIVE MODERNITY OF THEIR PHILOSOPHIES 1 4 2 VI BIBLIOGRAPHY I57 A. Bibliographical 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 definition. In his Dictionary Johnson defines "nature" in eleven different ways, some obsolescent, some contemporaneous and generally acceptable, and some only beginning to receive the recognition that was later accorded them. Obviously i t is impossible for .- me adequately to treat of either the many concepts of nature listed by Johnson or those many others that were favoured during the eleven hundred years with which I am concerned. Therefore, I shall discuss only the main ideas of nature of each period in order to indicate the general pattern of human thought and feeling which determined in a large measure the concepts of nature in Alfred Tannyson and George Meredith. Nature - Medieval (800-1450) Man's position i n the order of things after the F a l l was the substratum upon which rested medieval man's concept of and attitude toward nature. As a result of Original Sin, man, though he s t i l l had some divine attributes, was but a creature of clay that had to follow the teachings of the church in 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 entirely devilish, for she had been created by the Deity. Because God had set nature i n motion i n order that man "might work out his l i f e and destiny"^ medieval thinkers reasoned that they might see in her some evidence of the moral and sp i r i t u a l truths that man had to grasp for 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 for "knowledge and enlightenment" - the thirst for knowledge was the temptation that had introduced Original Sin into the world - but for "edification and exemplification" 2 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 for 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. ages did not accept the letter, though they did comply with the s p i r i t , of this authoritative church dogma. St. 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 ethics, he did 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 fa i t h and the church"; And St. Francis of Assisi likewise l a i d more stress upon the goodness of nature than the Church usually condoned. As Randall says: Seeing only God in 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 rejoice in 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 in this period when authority dictated that nature be seen in symbolic, not aesthetic or rationalistic terms. Yet their different approaches did indicate a growing interest and delight i n nature that reflected the influence both of an expanding trade and of the Hellenistic science that was entering Europe through contact with the Arabs. 3 Even Chaucer, a man more representative of the later medieval period than Aquinas or St. Francis, could express his joy in 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 in Nineteenth-Century English  Poetry, New York, The Macmillan Co., 1936, p.18. 2 Randall, The Making of the Modern Mind, p.72. 3 Ibid., p.207. 4 Whan that Aprille with hise shoures sqpte The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich liquor Of which vertu engendred is the flour; Whan Zephiris eek with his swete breeth Inspired hath in every holt and heeth The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne; And smale foweles maken melodye, That slepen a l the nyght with open eye -So priketh hem nature in hir corages ... 1 Nature - Renaissance (1450-J662) The discovery of the classics constituted the f i r s t threat to the medieval concept of two widely separated worlds, the world of religion and the world of nature and common l i f e . But, though the science and philosophy of Aristotle and Galen provided the i n i t i a l impetus toward bringing the two worlds closer together, i t remained for renaissance science and p h i l -osophy to establish natural theology on a firm basis. One must not, of course, assume that the transition from medieval to renaissance thought was effected in a few decades. Natural history, the study of zoology and botany i n particular, did not base i t s findings upon exact observation of natural phen-omena until the time of Francis Bacon? And the Copernican and Cartesian revolutions, which led to the mechanistic and mathematical view of nature so popular for at 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 along-side 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 differs noticeably from that of the medieval period. For just prior to and during Elizabeth's reign the new interest i n nature was being, as Raven says, "popularized": Antiquaries l i k e Leland and Camden, chroniclers like Holinshed and Stow, Latinists like l l y o t and Cooper, poets like Spenser and Drayton were beginning to display a concern for nature, an interest in the world about them, a delight in noting and naming i t s flowers and birds, that were wholly new. 1 While this 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 their crude instruments would permit and which was the forerunner of the 2 modern inductive method. Widening the "bounds of man's empire" through an objective knowledge of this world was the pursuit of Bacon and his followers that gave new importance to the concept of nature i n an age that had accepted the good-ness of both the world of the flesh and the world of the s p i r i t . Because Bacon's sc i e n t i f i c discoveries had to do mainly with the phenomena of earth, he was able to assert man's superiority over nature. But other discoveries were beginning to question this, dominance. In the fifteenth century Coperni-cus had advanced the hypothesis that earth was not the center of a tight, relatively small universe, as the middle ages had conceived i t . And Galileo at the. beginning of:the seventeenth 1 Raven, English Naturalists from Neckam to Ray, p.193. 2 Ibid., p.340. 6 century consummated this Copemican revolution by experimentally proving the i n f i n i t e size of the world of nature in which earth was neither central nor significant. Galileo's theories, which indicated the insignificance and relative unimportance of man in 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, immutable order of nature. 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 later set the keystone^ And they did inspire in a the f i r s t half of the seventeenth century/mechanistic concept of nature. Hobbes, following Descartes* lead, suggested that man, who was basically s e l f i s h and cruel, should follow nature and her fixed laws 2 and not live according to a morality dic-tated by his conscience or the church. And Spinoza founded a religion upon the new science, a mechanistic pantheism that saw God as order and man's soul as part of this 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 intellectuals of the f i r s t part of the century; but the idea of nature as a machine was compatible with their experience and- faith. For such a view of nature conformed with both the human experience of designing 1 Randall, The Making of the Modern Mind, p.242. 2 Ibid., p.186. 3 Ibid., p.244-45. 7 and constructing machines and the belief in 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 in the seventeenth century was neither mechanis-ti c nor mathematical. The emphasis was s t i l l on fa i t h and revelation, even though the two worlds of the middle ages had been brought very close to one another. Certainly the mechan-i s t i c conception of nature gave support to the widespread belief that nature was in her dotage; but the hope for the return of the golden age and the strong interest i n the "noble savage" resulted from a belief in the b i b l i c a l Eden, not from Cartesianism. The best minds of the latter half of the seven-teenth century based their 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 in the world of nature" 1 The neo-platonists, Cudworth and More, for example, were so disturbed by the mechanistic view of nature that they postulated a "plastic nature", a s p i r i t i n nature that carried out in 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 in the main agree with Cudworth's or More's assumption of a separate s p i r i t in nature, did ex-perience a sensible feeling of wonder as to how God manifested his s p i r i t and his w i l l in the world. The general feeling of 1 Raven, English Naturalists from Neckam to Ray, p.343. 2 Beach, Concept of Nature, pp.58-66. 8 "new philosophers" like S ir Thomas Browne-1- was that their scien-t i f i c appeal to factual evidence, observation, and experiment should be made in order that man might come closer to God through nature. Their sc i e n t i f i c approach and their religious belief were thus at one in forming an attitude toward a nature whose matter was informed i n some mysterious way by God's s p i r i t . 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 be-came the foundation of the general eighteenth-century faith in a natural religion based on reason, the "light of Nature". Reason, as Newton had shown, proved that an external Creator was "a necessary scientific hypothesis" 2 deducible from the evidence in nature of immutable law, simplicity, order, design and providence. As a result of the operation of reason, nature was interpreted as "the whole rational order of things, of which man was the most important part" 4 The rational design 5 of nature was the true source of eighteenth-century optimism. Out of Newton's science, therefore, arouse the deistic religion that depended solely upon reason. And what was reason? For Rapin and Pope i t was identified with nature, the ancients, 1 Raven, English Naturalists from Neckam to Ray. pp.343ff. 2 Randall. The Making of the Modern Mind, p.2*76. 3 Beach, Concept of Nature, pp.77-8. <• 4, Randaill, ;The ^ Makingao.£ tha .Modern Mind, p.274. 5 cf. Chapter 2 (on Paley} p.3li Nature - Eighteenth Century [Natural Religion 9 and the li t e r a r y r u l e s 1 i n such a way that only the educated admirers of the classics could enter i t s saorosanct limits. Obviously this l i t e r a r y definition was not the one which the deists, following Newton, could accept. Locke's definition^ embraced the general conception more f u l l y : Reason is natural Revelation, whereby the Father of light and fountain of a l l knowledge, communicates to mankind that portion of truth which He has l a i d within the reach of their natural faculties. 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, for his deistic 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 physical. Locke and the deists in general apparently did not realize that, in 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 of the moral world with the physical. They praised nature, paradoxically, as both a liberating principle and a supreme regulative power. But, whatever their errors i n logic may have been, the deists held consistently to the idea that religion was to be founded upon the meohanistic laws of nature, upon the universal fixed harmony lauded by Pope in his Essay on Man. Even Bishop 1 Basil Willey, The Eighteenth Century Background. London, Chatto & Windus, 1940, p.18. 2 Pope'3 Essay on Man presents a similar but not so explicit 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 in the eighteenth century, founded his belief i n revelation upon an analogy of God's laws with a reasoned interpretation of nature's laws.- Reason and nature were the causes of his fa i t h , and not the effects of i t . Butler's belief in miracles was the only point of difference between his and the deistic natural religion so well described by Benn: The deist position then ... amounts to this. Reason i s our sole and sufficient guide in l i f e . It teaches us that nature i s the work of a perfectly good Being, who desires us to be good, not for his sake, but for our own. The rational end of human action i s hap-piness, and happiness i s best secured by the observance of moral laws ascertained by studying the natural relations of things ... (Living in .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 logical extreme became a mater-i a l i s t i c , necessarian, and sometimes atheistic, philosophy. In France the Encyclopedists, of whom d'Holbach i s the best-known representative, adopted an atheistic materialism. They shelved the religious associations of the earlier deists and assumed that nature working according to fixed laws'was a l l 3 that man could know. And, although they s t i l l maintained a. faith in reason (or self-interest) and postulated on the basis of that faith a progress of man toward future perfection^ 1 cf. Chapter 2, p.36 and p.47. 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 per f e c t i b i l i t y was originated by Joseph Priestley, but stated most clearly by Concordet. 11 their philosophy of nature was so somber that even Goethe found i t gloomy. On the English side of the channel the world picture was not painted in such black colours. Priestley could s t i l l assume the existence both of- God and of a beneficent nature^" Nevertheless, he too. placed man in a framework of natural necessity and materialism. Indeed, both he and William Godwin carried the rationalistic conclusions of deism to their logical and impracticable lim i t . Priestley 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 in i t s search for truth; necessity, the law of causation governing the uni-2 verse was for Godwin man's assurance of this triumph. Nature with Godwin had gone as far into the abstract and potential as reason could take her" After Godwin pure deductive reason could no longer be the means of ascertaining either man's true morality or his method of progress in 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 in the eighteenth century had their origin mainly in reaction against the inter-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 Willey, op. c i t . , p.168. 2 Ibid., p.218. 3 Willey, The Eighteenth Century Background, p.239. c r i t i c i z e the conventional explanation of those facts. The idealists, for example, particularly Bishop Berkeley 1 and Hegel, regarded the laws of nature as mere " 'rules or methods 2 observed in the productions (sio) of natural effects' ". As an alternative to deistic mechanism Berkeley proposed an anima 3 mundi, an intellectual s p i r i t which could assume both material and non-material form and which governed nature for God. (Berkeley's anima mundi, one w i l l note, was not very different from the "plastic nature" assumed by the neoplatonists, Cud-worth 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 manifes-tation of pure thought and man as essential intelligence 4 incarnate. Idealism, however, had few followers in the eighteenth century. What was more destructive to the deistic philosophy was the negative criticism of David Hume. Hume turned to the empiricism which had constituted Locke's fundamental difference from the deists and constructed a natural religion upon man's experience of nature through his feelings. 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 cor-roborating scientific fact. His compromise with science 1 cf. 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 feeling. Kant also was concerned with the failure, as he saw i t , of the deists to justify religion on a truly rational basis that agreed with the facts of nature and with man's feelings (or intuition). He, therefore, presented in his Critique of 2 Pure Reason his subject-object distinction, which gave to science the investigation of natural phenomena that could be explained by objective fact, and which justified the use of faith i n that domain where science could neither prove nor disprove what the intuition apprehended. Kant's transcenden-talism thus separated the world of material nature from moral man, their union being apparent for Kant only in 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 intuitional interpretation of nature. This emphasis on intuition 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 intuitive view gave new strength to this reaction against deism. It was Kant, probably more than anyone else, who made possible both the popularity of Rousseau's natural man, the man of passion and feeling, and the great success of the romantic idea of man's returning to nature through obedience to his instincts and not to his reason. 1 Willey, The Eighteenth Century Background, p.111. 2 of. Chapter 2, p. V$T. Another blow to the natural religion of the deists came through the eighteenth-century study of natural history. Eighteenth-century biologists did not refute the principles 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. But, because of paleontological discoveries, they did begin to wonder about the missing "links'* and to question the s t a b i l i t y of the links of which something was already known. Kant 1 and other investigators showed that, i f one acknowledged the time required for evolution in the cosmos, i t was a logical assumption that the chain was being completed only in 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 alt 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 for the f i r s t time i n history she was being seen as an actual and historical record of the universe and of man. Confusion at the end of the century The movements "back to nature" through reason and through feeling created at the end of the century a confused situation. In theory th!e conflict was between the conception of an ab-stract and potential nature and that of an actual and hi s t o r i c a l nature. But in practioe the distinction was not so clear-cut. The scientists, for instance, could do l i t t l e with the idea of 1 cf. Chapter 2, p. 35"-2 cf. 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 picture. Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck, to name two of the eighteenth-century forerunners of Charles Darwin, were obliged to assume that conscious or instinctive desire both brought about varia-tions in species and evolved new species, for these scientists no could find ^ naturalistic explanation of change or progress in Newton's mathematical conclusions. Because they were labouring under the eighteenth-century delusion that free w i l l and necess-i t y could be easily 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 in society. Was i t to be the law of Eden or that of Europe? No one was quite sure, although almost every intelligent person agreed that the "noble savage", happy though he might be, was not as ci 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 affairs, had shown that c i v i l i z e d institutions were perhaps better than the "natural" state of anarchy extolled by Godwin. And yet, because nature was generally viewed as a liberating principle, the moral nexus remained, even though the "noble savage" was transformed into an English peasant. The religious picture was even more unbalanced than either the scientific* or the moral one. Was God immanent in 1 cf. Chapter 2, p. 3 7-16 an organic nature and. in man, as the transcendentalists and the romantics believed, or was he the Creator apart from his machine, as the deists, Paley, and the science of the eighteenth century a l l agreed? On the answer to this 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 definite answer. As a consequence, the nineteenth century inherited a confused mixture of scientific fact, philosophical speculation, and religious controversy. Romanticism, in revolt against reason and a mechanistic philosophy of nature, attempted to achieve a basic unity of the physical and spiritual elements in nature and man. One idea which the romantic poets a l l had in common was that i t was possible to see in the real world a manifestation of the spiritual force behind or in nature. When they were looking with delight at the beauteous forms in wild nature or when they noticed the noble qualities in man that were inspired by nature's beauty, they a l l agreed that nature's loveliness gave hints of moral and benevolent qualities, 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 intelligent God who only appeared to be Nature - Nineteenth Century Nature in the romantic period 1 see Beach, Concept of Nature, pp.276-291 (also see Chapters 2 and 4). 17 indifferent -to-man. Therefore, man's duty in 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 religion, 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 for 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-meM that oper-ated according to a cause-and-effeet law; for Coleridge the true view of the universe was only possible through the recog-nition of the "I amtt. In other words, Coleridge interpreted the evolutionary scale of being as a dynamic l i f e process existing only in the minds of men and i n the mind of God. He had no faith in an objective study of the material world, for he believed that scientific investigation dealt with the part and neglected the whole. The apprehension of the whole, of the active principle moulding material nature and spir 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, like Shelley i n the last 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, unintelligent power like nature. 1 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.326. I have treated of Goethe and Coleridge i n order to indicate the extremes in nature philosophy among the romantics and to point out the breadth of Wordsworth's concept of nature. For Wordsworth compounded a natural religion from both panth-eism and transcendentalism. In his early l i f e Wordsworth saw nature as something divine;- her beauty, providential law, benevolence, and unity constituted proof for him, as i t did for Goethe, that man, merely by letting nature play upon his senses, could obtain the moral force and sp i r i t u a l inspiration he needed to live 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 in him. This sensuous communion with nature, especially wild nature, was for the early Wordsworth the only way i n which man might return to his natural state of virtue and benevolence. But after 1800 Wordsworth began to doubt the divinity of nature, for he realized 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 later Wordsworth turned more and more toward transcendentalism. But he never completely forsook his pantheistic doctrine. Nature, which to Wordsworth did not reveal the cruel aspect that many Victorians 2 saw in her, was s t i l l a refining and purifying influence insofar as man's morality was concerned. His Ode to Duty 1 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.180. 2 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.31. indicates that he was s t i l l able to conceive of nature as an ethical norm, for in this poem he identifies moral and physical law in words that are reminiscent both of Goethe's joy in a "benevolent nature and of Coleridge's belief in 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 in 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 scientific discoveries, was able, as were most of the romantic poets, to achieve a balance between delight in nature's beauty and fa i t h in man's ethical progress. Nature in the Victorian period Because the Victorians were swept up in the f u l l flood of s c ientific progress, i t was no longer possible for them to regard nature in the general way the romantics had looked at her. Progress 1, "the central and most characteristic belief of the nineteenth century" was making i t s e l f a l l too evident in every phase of Victorian l i f e . It was generally believed that, through the efforts of the individual man exercising his 1 , Ideas and Beliefs of The Victorians, London, Sylvan Press, 1949, p.33 - Progress for the Victorians was "a belief in the steady, cumulative and inevitable expansion of human awareness and power- material, intellecutal, s p i r i t u a l " 2 Ibid., p.33. 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 Industrial Revolution, the poverty that the laissez-faire economists conceived to be a law of nature. The intellectuals, most of whom were up in arms over the "condition of England", had to realize that progress as they conceived- i t seemed to be inimical to the belief in a benevolent nature that was their heritage both from the eighteenth century and from the romantics. These leaders of Victorian thought therefore came to the conclusion that ethics was their prime concern. Whether or not nature could be f i t t e d into the ethical scheme depended upon the a b i l i t y of each individual poet, scientist, or philosopher to formulate a philosophy consistent with his ethical ideal, his religious beliefs, his temperament,his recognition of s c i e n t i f i c fact, or a combination of a l l these matters. For example, men like August Comte and John Stuart M i l l believed that ethical 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 ethical balance of pleasure and pain; their only God was a Humanity which pro-gressed according to a law of self-preservation that tended toward the "greatest good of the greatest number". Thomas Carlyle, on the other hand, believed that ethical progress could take place only through either a Calvinistic renunciation of self 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 identified 21 right and might. Other Victorians adopted the belief of Matthew Arnold that man could progress only i f he adhered to a stoical pantheism and recognized the humanizing effect of culture. Arnold, who saw no purpose in nature, suggested that man should transcend her by allowing his higher moral self to l i f t him into a better realm than this world of nature that contained both good and e v i l . Arnold saw the value of nature's order as a moral example for restless man, but he condemned her materialistic law. But these men were not dealing with progress inthe light of the evolutionary concept that interpreted in hi 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 in geology, astronomy and paleontology^ And even though the religious fundamentalists opposed the idea of man being the end-product of a progress that had involved hundreds of millions of years, science had i t s way. Nature therefore became an entity of vast proportions in both space and time. Yet for a time the scien-2 tis t s agreed both that man's mind andmorality were not subject to the laws of physical development and that nature might s t i l l be seen as benevolent, since the incompleteness of the geo-logical record could uphold eighteenth-century ideas of plenitude. Darwin's On The Origin of Species, however, wrought 3 havoc with both these beliefs, for the scientist's theory *T cf. Chapter 2,"~p-3°-2 cf. Chapter 2, p. 39. 3 cf. Chapter 2, pp.^ W, ^ • struck both, at the idea of a divine nature and at the concept of progress. But the Victorians in general did not at f i r s t realize the implications of Darwin's refusal to recognize progress. What they did react against was his theory that mind was a result of natural selection and that there was no evidence in nature to ju s t i f y faith in a divinity of any sort, either in nature or outside her. The evolutionary scientists had made of nature "a temporary phase of a process of incessant change"1 but most Victorians had to have assurance of something permanent in nature or outside her. Although they f i n a l l y accepted Darwinism in i t s essentials, they kept up a search for something more. Hence in the last thirty years of the century many of the old religious faiths gave way to a concern for ethical standards. Some Victorians tried to reconcile moral progress with nature, but most of this group found i t d i f f i c u l t to assume any benevolence in her. Others scorned nature and turned to God for ethical guidance. A third group based their morality on an agnostic faith i n humanism; they, like those who turned to God, acknowledged the necessity for man to fight against "cruel" nature. And s t i l l others, l i k e Hardy, took refuge i n a meliorism that^assumed a blind, immanent w i l l controlling the universe according to chance. Hardy could see no evidence for any belief in purpose, design, providence, harmony, or benevolence in nature. His only hope for the world was that consciousness, which he saw in man, might someday 1 T.H. Huxley, Evolution and Ethics and other Essays, London, Macmillan and Co., 1895, p.5. enter into this blind force and thus bring some sort of unity and harmony into the universe. This, then, was the changing climate in which Tennyson and Meredith moved. Tennyson, in particular, saw during his lifetime a transition from the eighteenth-century belief i n a divine, ordered nature to an agnostic stoicism or an atheistic despair that placed man i n opposition to nature, the only visible evidence of his existence. Meredith, born nineteen years after 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 faith i n nature to an emphasis on ethical man. My concern in 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. THE FORMATIVE INFLUENCES UPON TENNYSON'S CONCEPT OF NATURE 24 Tennyson's temperament - his controlling genius Alfred Tennyson was throughout his l i f e a very sensitive person, a man with an inordinate aversion to physical or mental pain. This extreme sensitivity was not without good/cause, for, though he was almost always in good physical health, Tennyson did pass through a period of great mental strain during his most impressionable years, that i s , between 1824 and 1832, the years of his adolescence and early manhood. In 1824 his father, because of financial worries (for which Tennyson as one of eleven children was partly responsible), turned to drink as an escaped But liquor made his condition worse; he became 2 subject to "paroxysms of violence" that inspired his whole household, particularly the already sensitive Alfred, with shame, grief, and terror. The scenes that resulted from his father's black moods often troubled Tennyson so greatly that he longed for death. As Charles Tennyson t e l l s us: It was particularly unfortunate that Alfred, with his sensitive and imaginative temperament, should have been exposed to such influences during the years of adolescence. This exaggerated in him the family tendency toward melancholy and depression, the "black-bloodedness" of the Ten-nysons, which was to affect him a l l his l i f e . 4 The domestic trouble begun by the father's illness did not, moreover, end there. Two particular incidents, among 1 Charles Tennyson, Alfred Tennyson, New York, The Mac-millanCo., 1949, p.46. 2 Ibid., p.48. 3 Ibid., p.48. 4 Ibid., p.48. 25 others, that l e f t t h e i r mark on Tennyson's nervous temperament are the following: f i r s t , the r u s t i c a t i o n from Cambridge of his brother Frederick, which, because i t had a disastrous effect on his father's physical health, plunged A l f r e d into a state of depression and hypochondria; and secondly, the extreme finan-c i a l d i stress of the family i n 1831 that i n d i r e c t l y caused a mental breakdown i n Alfred's brother Edward"" and an addiction 2 to opium i n another brother, Charles. A l l t h i s domestic a f f l i c t i o n , I believe, accentuated the natural moodiness of the young poet to a point where temperament controlled him. That i s , the ideas and b e l i e f s of Tennyson came to depend f o r t h e i r strength of conviction on the state of the poet's mood of the moment. Yet Tennyson'3 i n t e l l e c t struggled to subdue his governing genie; i t strove unsuccess-f u l l y to f i n d an Aladdin's lamp from which i t could f i r s t rub the dust of pain and doubt and then command the objectionable genie to be gone. For Tennyson believed that i t was his mission i n l i f e to supply an i n t e l l e c t u a l l y acceptable s o l u t i o n to the problems raised by science and r e l i g i o n , to uphold human dig n i t y and personality i n the face of the facts of change and process i n the world. Therefore, i t i s f a i r to assume both that the poet's idea of nature was strongly influenced by any f a c t s or ideas that tended to give unity to the attempted compromise and that the concept of nature r e s u l t i n g from his acquired knowledge or f a i t h (or both) was always r e l a t i v e to or dependent 1 Charles Tennyson, Alfred Tennyson. Mew York, The Mac-millan Co., 1949, :p» 127. 2 Ibid., p.-12g. 26 upon the poet ' s mood. A e s t h e t i c - s c i e n t i f i c influences on Tennyson's concept of Nature Tennyson i n the 1870*s made the fo l lowing remark to C a r l y l e : In my old age I should l i k e to get away from a l l th i s tumult and turmoi l of c i v i l i z a t i o n and l i v e on the top of a t r o p i c a l mountain.' I should at leas t l i k e to see the splendours of the B r a z i l i a n forests before I d i e . 1 Did the poet mean by t h i s statement that he had not been able to appreciate the beauties of European scenery, and that only as a "noble savage" could he have an aesthet ic apprec ia t ion of nature? C e r t a i n l y one may e a s i l y f i n d imagery i n h i s poetry which indicates a f e e l i n g for beauty; but seldom i s there the "sense of something deeply inter fused" that was Wordsworth's c h a r a c t e r i s t i c aesthet ic r e a c t i o n . What accounts f o r t h i s basic d i f ference i n nature apprec ia t ion between Tennyson and the., romantic poet? Part of the answer to t h i s l a s t question l i e s i n Tennyson's ea r ly environment. Somersby, L i n c o l n s h i r e , as Harold Nicol son t e l l s us, presented a constant contrast to the sens i t ive 1 Hallam Tennyson, A l f r e d Lord Tennyson, A Memoir, London, Macmillan and Co. L t d . , 1897, V o l . 1 1 , p.236. • ~™~ 2 c f . Wordsworth's comment on Tennyson (c. 1842-50): He i s apparently "not much i n sympathy with what I should.myself most value i n my a t tempts ,v iz . the s p i r i t u a l i t y with which I have endeavoured to invest the mater ia l universe, and the moral r e l a t i o n s under which I have wished to exhib i t i t s most ordinary 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.238. ' TEnnysonj a contrast between-the gentler beauties of nature as seen i n the trees, the flowers, the gardens - in general, the domesticated growth that Tennyson beheld in the small Rectory garden - and the harsher kind of scenery - the gloomy wolds, the.stark plowland, the flattened counties, and the distant, thundering sea 1 The young Tennyson took a keen interest in both these aspects of nature. But, because of his temperamental predilection for scientific knowledge, he observed with satisfaction those beauties which were explic-able and viewed with awe those that he found mysterious. It is true that he was able to advise his 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 later realized the implications of the real 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 this cosmic beauty sometimes must have repelled him. Thus even his intuition would have driven him to seek the beauties of nature which had in 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 for the Victorian poet was too often strange and alien, sometimes even e v i l . 1 Harold Nicolson, Tennyson, Aspects of his Li f e , Character, and Poetry, London, Constable & Co. Ltd., 1923,p.33. 2 Hallam Tennyson, op.cit., Vol.1, p.20. . 3 Ibid., Vol.1, p.316. 4 J.W. Beach, The Concept of Nature in Nineteenth-Century English Poetry. New York, The Macmillan Co., 1936, p.42. Tennyson's remark i n 1839 that he was "not so able as i n old years to commune alone with Nature" s i g n i f i e d that even at the age of t h i r t y he was unable to get from nature the s p i r i t u a l pleasure that a Wordsworthian " s o l i t a r y " would have experienced. What Tennyson had observed i n nature had appar-ently cast a shadow over his early love of natural beauty that could be d i s p e l l e d only through Tennyson's f u l l knowledge of the function and the "raison d'&tre" of the natural object being considered. The emotional i n s p i r a t i o n from the s t a r , from the tree, from the flower, did 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 place of the star i n the ordered cosmos, the growth rate of the 2 tree, and the exact colour of the flower. Besides, t h i s s c i e n t i f i c aestheticism was what the Victorians wanted. Since many of them were amateur n a t u r a l i s t s , nothing delighted them more than "to be provided with t h e i r 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 trouble of writing to the press to comment upon the exactness of the Laureate's observation of 'Nature'-of b i r d s , of flowers, of the sea, the wind, the trees. These c r i t i c s were not interested 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 "external accuracy of presentation"*^ Tennyson, himself a lover of f a c t , was not deaf to t h e i r praise or c r i t i c i s m . 1 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir. Vol.1, p.168. 2 See footnote on previous page (Wordsworth's comment on Tennyson). 3 Harold Nicolson, Tennyson, p.234. 4 Harold Nicolson, Tennyson, p.236. It is reasonable then to conclude that Tennyson's aesthetic view of nature was influenced by the impact of early environment and this favourable criticism in such a way that this view came more and more to express sc i e n t i f i c rather than aesthetic appreciation. However, in spite of this reasoned conclusion, one must remember that Tennyson was something of a romantic. Therefore, i t i s to be expected that expressions of his aesthetic conception of nature sometimes transcend mere accuracy. A composite picture of his aesthetic idea of nature w i l l require some balancing of romantic feeling for and scien-t i f i c observation of nature. The tropical mountain and the Brazilian forests represent the longing of the romantic to s l i p the bonds of sc i e n t i f i c exactitude. Scientific influences on Tennyson's concept of nature In Under the Microscope (1872) one finds the following statement: We live in an age when not to be s c i e n t i f i c is to be nothing; the man untrained in science...is but a pitiable and worthless pretender in the sight of professors to whom natural science is not a mean but an end.l Swinburne, i t is true, made this remark in a s a t i r i c a l vein; nevertheless, i t does express the general Victorian faith in science. Tennyson, as a representative Victorian, would have agreed - and this statement seems to apply throughout his lifetime - that the facts of science were to be trusted. "Science indeed in 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 superstition that s t i l l darkens the world" 1 As Professor Sidgwick stated i n an appraisal of Tennyson's In Memoriam: (for Tennyson} the physioal world is always the world as known to us through physioal science; the sc i e n t i f i c view of i t dominates his thoughts about i t ; and his-general accep-tance of this view is real and sincere, even when he utters the intensest feeling of i t s inadequacy to satisfy our deepest needs. 2 Which of the physical sciences had the greatest effect on Tennyson's idea of nature? I think i t is a logical assum-ption that physics and chemistry had l i t t l e influence. These two sciences (physics especially) were based on 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 in nature, and hence had only an indirect effect on the Victorian compromise between science and religion. The rule of law which was of interest to Tennyson was the rule of progress; "progress" was the catalyst which he thought would accelerate the union of fact andfaith. Because astronomy, geology, palaeontology, and biology a l l seemed to support this belief i n "progress" through their increasing emphasis on evolution, i t was natural that an amateur scientist like Tennyson should turn to these scienoes with great interest. Scientific influences (Pre-Cambridge) Some of Tennyson's evolutionary ideas had their origin 1 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. I, p.299. 2 Ibid., Vol. I, p.303. 31 in the Somersby period, of his l i f e . The Memoir t e l l s us that Tennyson read in his father's library books by Burke, Gold-smith, 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 society that was slowly evolving toward perfection. The idea of nature as actual and historical was a scientific concept in Burke which would have impressed Tennyson. In Goldsmith too was this idea of gradation, this time in the realm of biology. If Tennyson read Goldsmith's popular edition of natural history, he may have noticed a suggestion of the inadmissibility of fixed species; Goldsmith had con-tended that the divisions 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 in Goldsmith, he certainly encountered i t in Buffon's Histoire Naturelle, which traced the growth of nature from the formation of earth to man. Yet Buffon's views must have confused the young Tennyson, for, unlike Linnaeus, the great naturalist had insisted on class-ifying man apart from the apesf Furthermore, Buffon had 1 Ibid. , Vol. I, p.16. 2 Basil 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 Sir Charles Lye l l , The Geological Evidences of the  Antiquity of Man, London, John Murray, 1863, p.475. 32 wavered between two positions: f i r s t , the belief that, because of imperceptible gradation, there were no fixed 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 in astronomy was certainly contemporaneous with that in biology, i f not of earlier 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 (or of 3, Kant, as Thomas Huxley showed ). In this hypothesis was evidence of cosmic evolution (in the origin and development of solar systems) taking place in an inf i n i t e space-time universe. Tennyson must have wondered even in the 1820's i f there was any possible connection between this evolution in the cosmos and the progressive development of earth's creatures. It is also l i k e l y that during this period of his l i f e the poet was subjected to certain general eighteenth-century scientific ideas. The principle of plenitude, for example, would have fi t t e d in very readily with his astronomical knowledge. What supposition would have seemed more reasonable to Tennyson than that of the other planets being peopled? We know that Tennyson later held this assumption to be truth, for he objected to William Whewell's contention (in his book,. Plurality of Worlds) that only this earth was populated^ And 1 Lovejoy, op.cit., p.230. 2 W.R. Rutland, "Tennyson and the theory of evolution", Essays and Studies, Vol. xxvi, 1940. 3 T.H. Huxley, Darwiniana, London, Macmillan & Co.,1893, p.108. 4 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. I, p.379. 33 along with this belief in the plenum formarum Tennyson no doubt accepted some conception of a chain of being. No reputable sc 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 in a l l probability 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 in i n f i n i t e time and space to-ward a state of perfection, this 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. Scientific influences (Cambridge) The scientific influences on Tennyson's concept of nature during the Cambridge years tended to add to, to verify, and to consolidate the vague belief in science and in evolution that he had held to in the seclusion of Somersby. For instance, William Whewell, the master of Trinity for whom Tennyson had a great respect, 1 increased the young poet's interest in astronomy and geology, whewell, who was a college friend of S i r John Hersehel and who later became a friend of L y e l l , no doubt both cl a r i f i e d the theories of the two Herschels for his student and excited his Interest in the great geologist. Whewell also would 1 Ibid., Vol. I, p.38. 2 George R. Potter, "Tennyson and the Biological Theory of Mutability in Species", Philological Quarterly, Vol. xv, October, 1937, p.323. have strengthened Tennyson's idea of a general law of progress working with no interference in the material world 1 The "apostles", that group of intellectuals into which 2 Tennyson and Arthur Hallam were introduced in 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 in the many books on metaphysics that the apostles discussed. But he did attend their meetings, and so one may assume that he assimilated some of their ideas. The problem then i s to extract the relevant sc 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 scientific 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 "scie 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 fai t h they hoped would be behind the v e i l . And from Shelley and Kant the apostles doubtless drew evidence for fa i t h i n science and in an immutable law of 1 See quotation from Whewell*s Bridgewater Treatise, opposite t i t l e page in 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 far as this - we can perceive that events are brought about not by insulated interpositions of Divine power, exerted in each particular 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 belief in the physical alliance of man with nature as explored and interpreted by science 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. It is quite possible that the apostles, who regarded Kant as one of their deities, read his Allgemeine Naturgeschichte. If 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 diversification [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 his theory did permit in f i n i t e development within each link of the chain. Of course, Tennyson could have found a somewhat similar temporalization of the chain of being in Wordsworth, who got i t from Leibniz. Or he may have obtained the concept from Henry Ha11am, who later i n the '30's suggested that the chain was a plan existing in the Divine mind and working out only in the whole course of historyf The temporalized chain of being had, in fact, been adhered to in some form or other by 1 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.241. 2 Lovejoy, The- Great Chain of Being, p.268. 3 loc c i t . 4 L y e l l , Antiquity of Man, p.502. 36 many of the men familiar with science from 1750 on. S t i l l 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 certainly f i t t e d in with the scientific know-ledge Tennyson had in 1830, for i t was vague enough to admit of an evolutionary metamorphosis, which only God could under-stand, from one step on the ladder of being to the next (and higher) one. Tennyson would have seen affirmation of this theory in the discoveries by Von Baer (and others) of the successive resemblance of the human embryo (during development) to f u l l y developed embryos of lower organisms. That Tennyson knew of the Von Baer discovery seems apparent from his pre-sentation of i t in outline to Arthur Hallam during college 1 years. Another "evolutionary" concept of Tennyson's which took form in college discussion is that£>f cruelty i n nature (or the "survival of the f i t t e s t " , as Darwin later expressed i t ) . Cruelty in nature had been recognized as early as the seven-teenth century - Tennyson would have found the late seventeenth 2 and early eighteenth-century view in Bishop Butler - but up to the end of the eighteenth century i t had received sanction from the principle of plenitude. By Tennyson's Cambridge days, however, plenitude was not so universally obvious; therefore, 1 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol.1, p.44 -."My father seems to have propounded in 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 in nature. Tennyson, through his reading and through the Cambridge discussions of the writings of Goethe, Adam Smith and Bentham, was made aware of the sci e n t i f i c fact of waste in nature, for these men had a l l noted i t ; Goethe hadfeven recognized this waste as an apparent e v i l . Moreover, i n 1830 this cruel waste must have impressed Tennyson, for i t was manifest in the f a l l i b l e operations of the Industrial Revolution, the explanation of which Tennyson undoubtedly found in Malthus's Essay on Popul-ation (1798), which supplied a vast amount of historical evidence to show that waste, sickness, and premature death were inevit-2 able because of necessity, that "all-pervading law of nature" which dictated that population unchecked increases in geomet-r i c a l ratio, while subsistence increases only in arithmetical ratio. Only Tennyson's belief in the temporalized chain of cruelty in nature. This e v i l was certainly 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 for Tennyson, from Cambridge days onward, no proof of a Supreme Being. As he remarked in 1833 on observing some creatures under a microscope: 1 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.276. 2 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. 1 being could have offset the disquieting effect of the fact of 38 Strange that these wonders should draw some men to God and repel others. No more reason in one than in the other. 1 Scientific influences (Post-Cambridge, 1831-1859) Tennyson had, therefore, formed his main ideas of evolution before he l e f t Cambridge. Yet his interest in the ever-in-creasing discoveries of science was unabated. Geology was for him in this period particularly fascinating. In 1837 he read g Lyell's Principles of Geology with great interest. 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 this view of Cuvier's was 3 the dominant one even among scientists up to 1859. But after reading the Principles ... he doubtless changed his 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 Lyel l and the Uniformitarians, but I am inclined to believe that i t was soon after 1837. The idea of applying present causes of change (erosion, deposition, raising and lowering of land masses) to explain geological change through-out a l l time f i t t e d better than catastrophism did into Tennyson's belief in slow, uninterrupted evolution. Besides, the other evolutionary concepts in Lyel l agreed quite well with Tennyson's theory. For example, Ly e l l , after examining and condemning Lamarck's hypothesis, made the following statement: 1 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, V o l . 1 , p.102. 2 Ibid., Vol. I, p.162. 3 T.H. Huxley, Darwiniana, p.231. 39 i t appears that species have a real existence in nature; and that each was endowed, at the time of i t s creation, with the attributes and organization by which i t is now distinguished. 1 And with this affirmation of fixed species Lyell 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. Lyell's recognition of the struggle for 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 in the poet. From 1837 to 1859, the years when he was regarded as the "champion of science", Tennyson maintained a constant interest in science and in scientists. It is very unlikely that during these years he changed his evolutionary ideas, for most of the eminent scientists - L y e l l , Owen, Agassiz, Adam Sedgwick, Hugh Miller - held views which supported those of the poet. Perhaps he slightly altered his "evolution" to conform with Sedgwick's doctrine of progression, which postulated creative additions (not transmutation of species) to account for the appearance of 3. new species in the rock record; but there i s no reason to assume any other changes in Tennyson's belief. I believe that between 1840 and 1859 Tennyson held so firmly to the general sci e n t i f i c belief of the period that he could confidently say, after reading the advertisement on Chambers's Vestiges of 1 Sir Charles L y e l l , Principles of Geology (1830), Boston, L i t t l e , Brown and Co., 1853, p.666. 2 Ibid., 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 familiar for years, and.on.which. I have written more than one poem. 1 Chambers, after a l l , was merely repeating Lamarck's theory in popular form. And had not Lyell apprised Tennyson of the lack of evidence for Lamarck's theory? The "speculations" in Chambers, not his "conclusions", were what Tennyson had written about. Scientific Influence (Darwin and after) Tennyson i n 1859 read an early copy of Darwin's Origin 2 of Species "with intense interest". 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 materialistic law of "natural selec-tion" (which for Tennyson would have been synonymous with "cruelty i n nature"). How could the Laureate f u l f i l his mission of reconciling these "indisputable" facts of science, which did not require the assumption that s p i r i t existed, with religion? The following sentence near the end of- Darwin's scientific treatise must have seemed particularly ominous to Tennyson: Light w i l l be thrown on the origin of man and his history. 4 It i s l i t t l e wonder that, when Darwin visited him i n 1868, Ten-nyson queried, "Your theory of Evolution does not make against Christianity?"^ 1 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. I, p.223. 2 Ibid., 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. Vol. II, p.57. Tennyson may not have read Thomas Huxley 1s essay, Man  and The Lower Animals(1863), but he very probably did read L y e l l 1 s Antiquity of Man of the same year. In L y e l l there was some cold comfort. 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 fa i t h in the fullness of the annals, could sustain belief i n a creative force 1 Moreover, Lyell saw implications of pro-gress in Darwin's theory of transmutation; in the evolutionary pattern from sensation to mind he saw "a picture of ever-2 increasing dominion of mind over matter". But this respite for Tennyson was a short one. Darwin's Descent of Man was published in 1871. The scientist in this book provided facts that pointed "in the plainest manner to the conclusion that man is the co-descendant with other mammals of a common progenitor". And Darwin also discredited any assump-tions that his evolutionary theory postulated the immortality of the soul. Tennyson's religious faith, unorthodox though i t was, would not allow him to accept these materialistic impli-cations. S t i l l , as champion of science, he could not reject Darwin's well-founded theory. He had to compromise, and so he accepted Darwin's "evolution" as being "partially true" in a "modified form.11^ After a l l , his friend Tyndall and many other notable scientists had accepted the theory. And i t s t i l l was 1 Lyell, Antiquity, p.40jS. 2 Ibid., p.506. 3 Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection i n Relation to Sex, London, John Murray, 190b, Vol. II, p.3b6. 4 -Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. II, p .167. possible to look to men like A.R. Wallace, co-discoverer of ••Darwinism", for reassurance that man^s mental faculties could not be accounted for by natural selection 1 and that, 2 therefore, an intelligent agent must be assumed. But by 1880 there was reliable evidence to show that these suppos-edly great mental differences between man and the lower animals were non-existent? Though Tennyson i n 1892 s t i l l 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 religion were reconcilable, especially since "progress" was at that time being doubted by anthropologists and other men of science. Religious, moral, and philosophical influences on  Tennyson's concept of nature The general concept of evolution (or progress) seems to have led Tennyson up two different paths. Progress as a law of the material world justif i e d his f a i t h i n science. But what of religion? What of the progress of the s p i r i t in this world and in the next one? Gould the two ideas of pro-gress be reconciled in such a way that the eighteenth-century belief in 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 Wilfrid Ward, "Talks with Tennyson", Living Age, Vol. 210, July-September, 1896, p.332. 2 Huxley, Darwiniana, p.122. 3 Ibid., p.234. 4 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. II, p .409. terms of 'Nature'. Could Tennyson also believe, as the Deists and Pantheists did, that man should worship nature because in her operations was proof of a supernatural animating principle? In order to formulate Tennyson's concept of nature, I feel that these questions must be answered. Therefore, i t i s necessary to look at some of the religious, moral, and philo-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 in determining Tennyson's early idea of nature. Intellectually and emotionally the incipient poet was more concerned about certain matters than most young men are. In general, he was 3 afraid of a l l things related to "death, and sex, and God". Even this early in l i f e he worried about the problems of Resurrection and the Immortality of the Soul, subjects which 4 were always nearest his heart. Where could he find some logical answer to these questions? He could not embrace the Calvinistic doctrine of the "elect", which he might have taken from his aunt or from a study of Bunyan (whose books were in 5 his father's library), for he regarded Calvinism as a super-stitious, selfish belief. Nor was his father's rather weak Anglican faith of any help. It is a f a i r assumption that in 1 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.116. 2 Harold Nieolson-, -Tennyson, p.1.5. 3 Ibid., p.28. 4 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. II, p.103. 5 Ibid., Vol. I, p.lb. . 44 those pre-Cambridge days Tennyson f e l t that the only i n t e l l -ectual resort was science. Knowledge of this world might allow him to peer behind the v e i l . Science, at least, would have constituted a source for optimism, for at that time i t was not concerned with man's place in nature. The sci 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 directly query the duality 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 his trust i n science (because science made knowledge possible) but also with his stress on 1 moral obligation as the key to re a l i t y . Morality for Kant was a categorical imperative which, i f viewed in terms of a high-est good not realizable i n this world, postulated individual 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 religion. Therefore, i t i s highly probable that Tennyson adopted this belief i n an absolute morality, for 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 in the Nineteenth Century, London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1906. Vol. I, p.192 45 physioal nature and "divine n morality. As Kant had stated, this compromise was possible through a joint appeal to the Reason (Vernunft), "the faculty by which f i r s t principles are apprehended"1 and to the Understanding (Verstand). A l l subjective phenomena [said Kant^\ are fi n a l l y referred to an abiding unity, which is the soul. A l l objective phenomena, con-ceived In their t o t a l i t y together constitute the world. And the synthesis of these two is the Being of Beings, the absolute r e a l i t y ; in 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"7 was perhaps convinced even during the Cambridge years of -the desirability of this Kantian synthesis. In any case, the influence of Kant on the poet does imply a growing dualism in 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 some-what similar to Kant's* Goethe also divorced man's spiritual nature from external nature and insisted that man's creative 4 - ' s p i r i t did not evolve. But Goethe differed from Kant i n that he believed that a synthesis of the two 'natures' constituted a universal nature, not the author of nature. Therefore, I doubt that Tennyson accepted Goethe's view; his emotional need 1 A.W. Benn, The History of English Rationalism in the  Nineteenth Century, London, -LongmansT Green & Co., 1906. Vol. I, p.187. 2 loc. c i t . 3 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. 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 to-ward 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. And a study of the poetry of Wordsworth written after 1800, especially his Ode, Intimations of Immortality..., would also have impressed Tennyson with the idea that earth 2 was weaning man away from his spiritual essence or, as Tennyson would have phrased i t , his "divine morality". Berkeley and Shelley would have lent further support to this transcendentalism with which Tennyson was being indoc-trinated. Both these men had assumed that physical nature was secondary to the intellectual s p i r i t (or principle) which 3 4 governs the universe.* Berkeley had also assumed that this s p i r i t was a diffusion of the divine soul through the souls 5 6 of men and that nature was alien to this soul or. mind.of rman. And'i Inrsplte of Dr. Johnson's famous refutation of Berkeley's ide a l i s t i c theory, Berkeley had recognized that this alien 7 'nature' really 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 spiritual reaction against materialists like Bentham and James M i l l , who, like August Comte later in the century, wanted to found society not on any theology or philosophy but on the truths of positive science alone. These ut i l i t a r i a n s wanted to erect a ^Goddess Humanity" that would supersede God and immortality or at least make the Supreme Being, as Lucretius had done, a remote, un-• •• i • . . . concerned god. Tennyson's very reaction to these materialists would have helped transcendentalism to gain a hold on his mind. It i s ironic, though, that the poet was faced in these years with the problem of e v i l , the fact of cruelty (or pain) in nature, which was the very matter the ut i l i t a r i a n s were trying to deal with. Tennyson had always f e l t that the exis-tence of e v i l was "the greatest d i f f i c u l t y " 1 But the cold, materialistic solution was not for him an acceptable way out of the maze. Nor was the equally harsh suggestion that this , evi l was an attribute of a God of love. 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 freely obey the "divine morality" in order to bring about a f i n a l regul-3 arity, order and right. Tennyson, following Butler, would have said that man's lower nature (the fleshly part of him) was subject to e v i l - t h a t e v i l somehow being part of 1 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. II, p.400. 2 Gladstone, ed., Butler, p . 6 6 . 3 Ibid., p.13. external nature - but that man's higher nature (his conscience) escaped e v i l in i t s march toward God. A l l this mass of idea l i s t i c philosophy, however, must have seemed in 1831 a bit remote to the young poet leaving Cambridge. The mere presence of his friend, Arthur Hallam, was enough both to dispel his fears about l i f e , death, and the l i f e after 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 for facts and theories to calm these fears. Post-Cambridge Hallam's death re-emphasized for Tennyson the cruelty 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 in hopes that a satisfactory explanation was there. Yet by 1839 he could only say that the answer to the problem of good and e v i l lay in the hope of 1 universal 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 in allaying the poet's fears. Carlyle had the convictions that Tennyson lacked. Carlyle enforced the ideas that Tennyson had found in Kant and the idealists. The author of Sartor Resartus recognized the order in nature; yet 1 H. Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. I, p.170. 2 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 for the "goodness" in 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 scie n t i f i c and philosophical thought of the 1850's tended to shake Tennyson's faith i n the divinity of morality, in the divinity of man's mind. If Tennyson read Herbert 3 Spencer '3 Psychology in 1855 - as he no doubt did - he would not have been unduly disturbed by the idea that mind was but a particular aspect of life-f (Spencer had not said that " l i f e " was merely physical); but when Darwin f i r s t implied, and later definitely stated, that mind originated through natural selec-tion, that mind was part of a materialistic evolutionary scheme, Tennyson must have raised a l l his religious and philosophical defences. As Beach says, the offense of Darwinian evolution for Tennyson Jwas the explanation of the origin and nature of 5 mind. It was because of this of f ensel that Tennyson could accept "Darwinism" only in a modified form. The s p i r i t (or mind) of man was not, for the Laureate, evolved from matter (though s p i r i t might evolve according to a similar principle)§ As he stated to Wilfrid Ward on the subject of the descent of man's body from the lower animals: 1 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.303. 2 Memoir,' Vol. II, p.241. 3 Ibid., Vol. I, p.411. 4 Benn, History of Rationalism, passim. 5 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.431. 6 H. Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. 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 is something superadded, hut the brute nature is 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 after 1859. He had to realize 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 "materialistic" saw. His problem was whether he should grasp another branch or try to patch up the damaged one. It appears that he-chose the f i r s t alternative, even though he contended to the end that he had temporarily resolved the science-religion dichotomy. Metaphysics, the Memoir t e l l s 2 us, began to engross Tennyson more and more after 1866, a meta-physics drawn from the idealist and transcendental philosophers. After 1867, as the following quotations indicate, the poet con-stantly affirmed the r e a l i t y of s p i r i t : He talked about ... all-pervading Spirit being more understandable by him than matter. 3 Matter Qis^ a greater mystery than mind. What such a thing as a s p i r i t is apart from God and man I have never been able to conceive. Spirit seems to me to be the r e a l i t y of the world. 4 Spirit became for him something akin to divine morality, the essential characteristic of God and man. He s t i l l recognized matter as existing in 'Nature', but man's s p i r i t was not for 1 Ward, "Talks with Tennyson", p.332. 2 op.cit., Vol. II, p.39. 3 IDid., Vol.11, p.48. 4 H. Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. II, p.424. him part of this 'Nature'. He seems, moreover, to have placed s p i r i t above matter. "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 fact, i t appears that i n the 1860's he fashioned (or attempted to fashion) a Pantheistic belief of sorts stressing s p i r i t and the all-importance of spi r i t u a l progress. That he did hold to such a philosophy for a time i s demonstrated by his remark i n 1863: .Darwinism, Man from Ape, would that rea l l y make any difference? ...Time is nothing ... are we a l l not part of Deity? 1 Kant's philosophy seems to have been of further help to Tennyson at this time. Some of the poet's deepest expressions of faith are strikingly similar to those uttered by the p h i l -osopher one hundred years before: the nobler nature does not pass from i t s individuality when i t passes out of this l i f e . 2 I believe in God, not from what I see i n Nature, but from what I find in man. 3 This last quotation is an expression of the dualism one may expect to find in 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 flesh to the physical world; in fact, i t is f a i r to assume that one w i l l find in the poems written from Cambridge years on that 'nature' is used as a term identical with 'the world of matter'. The 1 H. Tennyson, Memoir. Vol. I, p.514. 2 iPicU , Vol. II, p.155. 3 Ibid.. Vol. II, p.374. 52 poet apparently took l i t t l e stock in natural religion; only in God could the divine part of man - his morality - and material nature he united. Therefore, what one may confidently expect to find in a l l but Tennyson's early poems is either a discussion of nature considered in general as the physical world or perhaps one of a universal nature seen in a moment of mystical app-rehension as the Divine Idea; that i s , nature seen as matter operating according to a universal, immutable law of change, but nevertheless hostile 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 is God himself. The distinction between these two 'natures' is not of course so clearly defined as I have indicated in this discussion of the various influences on the poet's concept of nature. Tennyson's temperament, let me repeat, was also one of the foroes acting to produce each resultant idea of nature. One may 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 in part for an optimistic acceptance of progress in the material world as well as for a pessimistic rejection of the implications arising from the e v i l evident in nature's operations. Indeed, i t i s logical to assume that, because of Tennyson's moodiness, his attitude toward this 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 different moods. TENNYSON'S CONCEPT OF NATURE AS SEEN IN HIS POETRY 53 Tennyson informs us in The Two Voices that his mission in l i f e was 'As far as might be, to carve out Free space for 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 controlling or controlled by the "inner" law. The purpose of this chapter w i l l be to show both that, this "force" was essentially 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 LObjectivity concerning science, emotional I reaction towards nature J Tennyson, unlike Wordsworth and the other Romantic poets, made nature the handmaiden of science. The Victorian poet believed that man could love nature most when he, like 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 in this chapter are taken from the nine volume edition of his works: Hallam, Lord Tennyson, ed., The Works of Tennyson. London, Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1908. 2 cf. 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 for nature was due to his scientific knowledge of her operations, not to any sp i r i t u a l or emotional power nature had over him. Because science repres-ented authority, Tennyson reacted against nature rather than against her interpreter. Nature, not science, was a mistress of questionable fidelity;- therefore, the temperamental poet gave free rein 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 in the orderly manifest-ations of nature, namely, law, progress, and evolution, three principles which for him were almost synonymous. For Tennyson law in nature was the law of progress; and progress in nature was possible only within an evolutionary, temporalized chain of being. In Tennyson's poetry are many allusions to the fixed law of the universe. For example, an,early poem, On A Mourner, expresses confidence in nature's law being the external i n -dication of God's law: Nature, so far as in 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 lives and loves in every place; 1 Edwin Morris, I, p.£98. And murmurs of a deeper voice Going before to some far shrine, Teach that sick heart the stronger choice, T i l l a l l thy l i f e one way incline With one wide Will that closes thine. 1 Tennyson does not attain to such praise of nature as semi-divine again, but he does reaffirm the necessity for man to obey the laws of nature. The recluse of The Palace of Art suffers because she tries to separate herself from nature and man, -from the "one fix'd law" that controls "the hollow orb of 2 moving Circumstance". And the village maid who marries the lord of Burleigh dies because she opposes nature's laws in 3 trying to live 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 sickly forms that err from honest Nature's rule I"f Even-during the gray moods of In Memoriam Tennyson is able to brighten his. tone through contemplation of orderly law in 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 vision, the gleam, ...like Nature, wouldst not mar By changes a l l too fierce and fast 1 On A Mourner, I, pp.237-8. 2 The Palace of Art, I, p.184. 3 The Lord of Burleigh, II, p.107. 4 Locksley Hall, II, p.39. 5 In Memoriam, II, p.107. This order of Her Human Star, This heritage of the past. 1,2 The poet thus commends law i n nature because of the progress implied i n i t s operation. Progress,he believes, i s good be-cause i t means constant change and progression i n man and nature toward a future golden age. Hence i n his optimistic eulogies of progress Tennyson avoids, i n t y p i c a l V i c t o r i a n fashion, any s p e c i f i c reference to s c i e n t i f i c discovery or to present con-d i t i o n s . He sees change and process as sources of optimism whenever he has a fixed eye on the millenium, when "the world" w i l l show " l i k e one great garden". His b e l i e f i n progress, however, i s based on man's actions than on nature's operations. Nature, he states, a l t e r s the physical part of man; but her law of change does not apply to man's soul: For Nature also, cold and warm, And moist and dry, devising long, Thro' many agents making strong, Matures the i n d i v i d u a l form. Meet i s i t changes should control Our being, l e s t we ru s t i n ease. We a l l are changed by s t i l l degrees, A l l but the basis of the soul. 4 This soul of man, which i s not subject to the process of physical nature, controls man's progress.. Man may gain know-ledge through the observation of nature's processes, but the purpose governing progress i s something divine that exists i n 1 Freedom, VI, p.338. 2 c f . Chapter 2, (Burke's concept of nature as the gradual progress of soc i e t y ) . 3 The Poet, I, p.59. 4 Love Thou.;. Thy Land, I, p.245. God and in the divine half 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 principle of change, but man (through God) provides the power to use this principle: Not in vain the distance beacons. Forward, forward let 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 really did not govern earthly progress; she but handed on the sceptre so that man might rule. The same dichotomy between nature and man i s present in Tennyson's idea of evolution. His general evolutionary beliefs, however, had firmer roots in science than his idea of progress had. Tennyson could see hope in evolution before 1859 because science sustained his trust in the temporalized chain of being. Oh yet we trust that somehow good Will 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 shall be destroy'd, Or cast as rubbish to the void, When God hath made the pile complete; That not a worm is cloven in vain; That not a moth with vain desire Is shrivell'd in a fruitless f i r e , Or but subserves another's gain. 4 1 Locksley Hall, II, p.45. 2 Ibid., p.49. 3 cf. Chapter 2^  t>. 3<J. 4 In Memoriam. I l l , pp.90-91. 58 Here is a belief, one may note, in the creative power of God, not in nature's evolution. Certainly the idea that nature had moul-ded man does appear in The Two Voices: ... 'When f i r s t the world began, Young Nature thro' five cycles ran, And in the sixth she moulded man. •She gave him mind, the lordliest Proportion, and, above the rest, Dominion in the head and breast.' 1 But this Voice discards the eighteenth-century belief i n divine nature in favour of a more general faith in 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 in evolving man — 'Or i f thro' lower lives I came — • Tho' a l l experience past became Consolidate in mind and frame — 2 he can find no hope in this theory alone. His optimism is based on the conviction that man's s p i r i t came from some 3 Platonic realm outside nature. The evolutionary principle in nature of which Tennyson particularly approves i s the law of gradation. If man does not obey this law, i f he should Tumble Nature heel o'er head, and, yelling with the yelling street, Set the feet above the brain and swear the brain is in the feet 4 then he w i l l 1 The Two Voices, I, p.123. 2 Ibid., p.139. 3 Ibid., p.140. 4 Locksley Hall Sixty Years After, VI, p.291. Bring the old dark ages back without the fa i t h , without the hope, Break the State, the Church, the Throne, and r o l l their 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 statelier Eden" where 4 the "crowning race of humankind" w i l l exist. In fact, Tennyson t e l l s us, i f man observes gradation a higher race may come into being after this human zenith is attained (a logical deduction from the temporalized chain of being theory). Tennyson visual-izes the chain of being as a kind of mural in which higher beings are depicted as evolving through the conquest of the lower elements within themselves: ... in the lowest [zone] beasts are slaying men, •' And in the second men are slaying beasts, And on the third are warriors, perfect men, And on the'fourth are men with growing wings 6 This hope for a higher race also appears in In Memoriam, in 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 in divers tones, That men may rise on stepping-stones Q Of their 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 Ibid., p.291. 2 The Princess, IV, p.134. 3 Ibid., p.135. 4 Ibid., p.135. 5 cf. Chapter 2. 6 The Holy G r a i l . V,'p.287. 7 Poems, III, p.225 (notes). 8 In Memoriam, III, p.41. 60 spir i t u a l progress. Nature had shown man her law of gradation; now he should make use of his divine powers in order gradually to "work out the beast". Although man is bound physically in "the grades of l i f e and l i g h t " 1 he should Arise and f l y The reeling Faun, the sensual feast; Move upward, working out the beast, And let the ape and tiger die. 2 The process, of course, w i l l be gradual: Where is one that, born of woman, altogether can escape From the lower world within him, moods of tiger, or of ape? Man as yet is being made, and ere the crowning . Age of Ages, Shall not aeon after aeon pass and touch him into shape? 3 S t i l l , the glory of God guarantees the f i n a l result: A l l about him shadow s t i l l , but, while the races flower and fade, Prophet-eyes may catch a glory slowly gaining on the shade, T i l l the peoples a l l are one, and a l l their voices blend in choric 4 Hallelujah to the Maker 'It i s finish'd. Man is made.' In these last few quotations one may see Tennyson's general pattern of evolution from animal, to man, to the perfect man, and to a higher being. In a l l this progression the stress is on the future. Nevertheless, Tennyson, in_facing the future, recognizes the links of the past and present, and thus is able to formulate a complete, optimistic, evolutionary scheme based on the temporalized chain of being. But one w i l l note, in reading the following passages (which enunciate this 1 In Memoriam, III, p.80. . 2 Ibid., p.166... 3 The Making of Man, VII, p.177. 4 Ibid., p.177. 61 scheme), that man's divine s p i r i t , not nature's evolving matter, is always paramount for Tennyson. Out of the deep, my child, out of the deep, Where a l l that was to he, in a l l that was, Whirl'd for a million aeons thro' the vast Waste dawn of multitudinous eddying light — Out of the deep, my child, out of the deep, Thro' a l l this changing world of changeless law, And every phase of ever-heightening l i f e , And nine long months of antenatal gloom, With this last moon,-this crescent — her dark orb Touch'd with earth's light — thou comest, darling boy; • • • ...and prophet of the perfect man; • • • Live, and be happy in thyself, and serve This mortal race thy kin 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 lives Be prosperously shaped, and sway thy course Along the years of haste and random youth Unshatter'd; then full-current thro' f u l l man; And last in kindly curves, with gentlest f a l l , By quiet fields, a slowly dying power, To that last deep where we and thou are s t i l l . 1 Except for the brief nine month period when the foetus is passing through the various embryological stages, Tennyson gives nature no real control over this human being. Change in nature and nature's changeless law affect 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 in 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 shall draw from out the vast And strike his being into bounds, And, moved thro' l i f e of lower phase, Result in man, be born and think, And act and love, a closer link Betwixt us and the crowning race 1 De Profundis, VI, pp.177-8. Of those that, eye to eye, shall look On knowledge; under whose command Is Earth and Earth's, and in their hand Is Nature like an open book; No longer half-akin to brute, Eor a l l we thought and loved and did, And hoped, and suffer'd, is but seed Of what in 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 ripe, That friend of mine who lives in God, That God, which ever lives and loves, One God, one law, one element, And one far-off 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 in evolution. Man, he trusts, is 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 principles evident in orderly nature . - law, progress, and evolution. Nature reveals commendable laws for man's edi-fication; 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, after noting nature's laws, f i r s t purge i t s e l f of the brutish qualities with which i t has been bur-dened through nature's physical evolution, and then assert i t s superiority in order that further evolution may take place. Tennyson'is optimistic about man's future state, not about 1 In Memoriam, III, pp.183-4. 2 The Ring, VII, p.38. 63 nature's present existence. Calm acceptance of scientific fact and "relative-objectivity concerning nature It is worth noting that in his optimistic moods Tennyson deals with nature in a very general way and thus is able to extend scientific principles into religion. That i s , he does not at these moments consider particular s c i e n t i f i c discoveries which might conflict with his simple religious faith} It is true that the passage quoted from De Profundis contains many references to the world revealed by science; i t refers to in f i n i t y of time, nature's law of necessity, the nebular hypothesis, the vastness of space, and man's physical embodi-2 ment in 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 in a calm mood of acceptance can he look at nature in a r e l -atively objective way, and even then he usually just faces the scientific fact and not i t s implications. Tennyson in this mood of acceptance, when the actuality of "the past and present occupies his thoughts somewhat more than the Reality of the future does, gives us his clearest -picture of nature, a picture embracing his whole conception of evolution from cosmos to physical man. Let us ascertain whether or not the design of this more detailed representation of nature concurs with the broader outline we have already looked at. Cosmic evolution, Tennyson believed, had to be studied 1 cf. Chapter 2, p,^-2 Wilfrid 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 in order to, paradoxically, escape from nature's shackles. Besides, a study of astronomical evolution did not directly involve the position of man in 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, If that hypothesis of theirs be sound' 2 And he is able to include this hypothesis in the overall progression from nebula to barbarous, or merely physical, man: 'This world was once a fl u i d haze of light, T i l l toward the centre set the starry tides, And eddied into suns, that wheeling cast The planets: then the monster, then the man; Tatbo'd or woaded, winter-clad in skins, Raw from the prime, and crushing down his mate; As yet we find in barbarous i s l e s , and here Among the lowest.' 3 Tennyson's interest in astronomy was. not confined merely 4 to this hypothesis of cosmic evolution. His quest for unity in the world demanded a general knowledge of a l l the phenomena of the heavens. Therefore, one finds throughout his poetry constant reference to planets, stars, constellations, meteors and comets. It appears that Tennyson was particularly inter-ested in those bodies of the universe that he could see with 1 cf. Chapter 2, p.SZ. 2 The Princess, IV, p.59. 3 Ibid., p.27. 4 For other references to the nebular hypothesis see In  Memoriam, III, p.149 ("the shaping of a star") and In Mem-oriam, III, p.130 ("before the crimson circled star/Had fallen into her father's grave"). The poet explains' the second quo-tation with the following note: "Before Venus, the evening star, had dipt into the sunset. The planets, according to Laplace, were evolved from the sun".(Ill, p.250). 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 is usually that of the empirical scientist, and he frequently qualifies his acceptance of authoritative discoveries. The moon, for instance, i s perhaps "dead"; at least, 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 principle of evolution does he admit the "deadness" of the moon. The nebular hypoth-esis, he realizes, demands dissolution as a necessary corollary to evolution in the cosmos; therefore, i t is conceivable to him that the moon i s dead: Dead, but how her living glory lights the h a l l , the dune, the grass.1 Yet the moonlight is the sunlight £L.e. reflected u g sunlight}, and the sun himself w i l l pass. However, the poet does not always treat of the'stars, i planets, and constellations with s c i e n t i f i c caution. In deal-ing with familiar cosmic landmarks like Mars, Venus, Saturn, and Hesper, Tennyson sometimes accepts philosophical specul-ation rather than s c i e n t i f i c fact: Venus near her! smiling downward at this earthlier earth of ours, Closer on the Sun, perhaps a world of never fading flowers. Hesper, whom the poet call'd the Bringer home of a l l good things. A l l good things may move in Hesper, perfect peoples, perfect kings. 1 Lock3ley Hall Sixty Years After, VI, p.894. 2 Ibid., p.295. 66 Hesper--Venus — were we native to that splendour or in Mars, We should see the Globe we groan i n , fairest of their 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 whirls, his stedfast shade Sleeps on his luminous ring.' 2 These quotations il l u s t r a t e more than Tennyson's astronomical knowledge; they also indicate his predilection for viewing the operations of nature, at long range in space (as well as in time). Because he could not see the defects in 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". It 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 fact, to discuss his view of the actual world without i n c l -uding the "Real" world of the far future, a world so distant in space and time that the poet can imagine i t existing on some other planet that i s also remote in space-time; What one must keep in mind is that nature (cosmical or earthly) is not part of Tennyson's "Real" world; nature is material, whereas Reality is s p i r i t u a l . The poet brings us back to actuality in his discussions of comets and meteors, for 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 cruelty in nature i n this cosmic struggle - a f a i r fight is quite acceptable to 1 Looksley Hall Sixty Years After, VI, p.295. 2 The Palace of Art, I, p.172. 3 His optimism here was probably a result of his fa i t h in plenitude in cosmos - cf. Chapter 2, p."o£* him. The meteor, though i t "leaves a shining furrow", slides on i t s way in silence. 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 did the majority of geol-ogical and paleontological discoveries up to Darwin's time. Tennyson can talk with equanimity of man's physical precursors, 4 for, as he states, "Nature brings not back the Mastodon". He also i s able to accept the fact, which was so destructive to orthodox religion, of the "old-world mammoth bulk'd in ice'.'5 And he can recognize the parallel between the development of the human foetus and the progression through nature's long evolution from monster to physical man (Von Baer's theory again): A monstrous eft was of old the Lord and Master of Earth, For him did his high sun flame, and his river billowing ran, And he f e l t himself in his force to be Nature's crowning race. As nine months go to the shaping an infant ripe for his birth, So many a million of ages have gone to the making of man: He now is f i r s t , but is he the last? Is he not too base? 6 The last line of this passage from Maud constitutes, one w i l l notice, another unscientific condemnation of the brute qualities 1 see his poem Ulysses. 2 The Princess. IV, p.131. 3 Harold, IX, p.219. 4 The Epic, I, p.254. 5 The Princess. IV, p.88. 6 Maud, IV, pp.158-9. 68 with which nature has endowed man. Tennyson thus both acknow-ledges and deprecates nature's evolution. But, in 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 catas-trophic hypothesis, for example,,appears in a poem written in 183E, in 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 far on as eye could see. 1 In Memoriam, however, shows the effect of Lyell's uniformitar-2 ianism. In one section of this poem Tennyson makes no decision between Ly e l l and Cuvier: They say, The solid earth whereon we tread In tracts of fluent heat began, An grew to seeming-random forms, The seeming prey, of cyclic storms, T i l l at the last arose the man. 3 But in two other parts of the elegy Tennyson gives his vote to Ly e l l : 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 tree. 0 earth, what changes hast thou seen! There where the long street roars, hath been The stillness of the central sea. 1 Sonnet X, I, p.112. 2 cf. Chapter 2, p.sfc-3 In Memoriam, III, p.165. - The line "Seeming prey of cyclic storms", says Hallam Tennyson (III, p.261), means evolution 'by gradual self-development, or by sorrows and fierce strivings and calamities'. 4 In Memoriam III, p.74. 69 The h i l l s are shadows, and they flow From form to form, and nothing stands; They melt like mist, the solid lands, Like clouds they shape themselves and go. 1 And he voices an explicit approval of uniformitarianism in 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 their w i l l ; 2 A l l these geological discoveries led Tennyson to the unmistakable conclusion that man had some definite place i n nature's evolution. One discovers that, in the poems which pre-date Darwinism, the poet is content to allow nature a vague lease on man's blood: He knows a baseness in his blood At such strange war with something good, He may not do the thing he would. 3 (Even this early Tennyson blamed nature for weaning man away from God.) But in those poems written after 1859 he is more specific. F i r s t , he admits that a "brute brain within the 4 man's" exists; and, secondly, he accepts the popular misin-terpretation of Darwin's theory, the erroneous idea that man is directly 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 is 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 In Mamoriam III, p.169. 2 Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington. II, p.220. 3 The Two Voices. I, p.136. 4 Lucretius. II, p.199. 5 Charles Tennyson, ed., "Tennyson: unpublished poetry", Nineteenth Century and After. 1931, p.631. That they chuckle and chatter and mock? We come from apes - and are far removed -But rejoice 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 is specific, is not unqualified. Only man's body is bound by nature; his soul must claim i t s sovereignty over her. If my body come from brutes, tho' somewhat finer than their own, I am heir, and this my kingdom,. Shall 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 rule thy Province of the brute. 2 S t i l l this Leviathan, man's soul, should have a dispassionate regard for his subject nature i f only for the reason that man's lower self is related to her: Hold thou, my friend, no lesser l i f e in scorn, A l l Nature i s the womb whence Man is born. 3 Because nature is the mother of physical man, Tennyson grants us permission to admire her beauty, on condition that we be 4 cognizant of Beauty's two sisters, Good and Knowledge: 1 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. II, p.58, "By A Darwinian" 2 By An Evolutionist, VII, p.110. 3 H. Tennyson, op.cit., Vol. II, p.399. 4 One may remark a significant difference between the aesthetic appreciation of nature in Tennyson and that in Keats, Shelley and Wordsworth. When the three Romantic poets regarded the beauties of nature, they instinctively recog-nized a divine animating principle 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 in 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 for the good of man; for Shelley this "plastic stress" was an intellectual power which swept (cont. next page) 71 Beauty, Good, and Knowledge, are three sisters That doat upon each other, friends to man, Living together under the same roof, And never can be sunder'd without tears. 1 For example, in observing the chestnut, one should notice more than the beautiful colour of the nut i t s e l f . One should also add to his knowledge by marking how the shell Divides threefold to show the f r u i t within: £ The most satisfying beauties are therefore those about which Tennyson can know something. He takes pleasure i n different-iating between the "oat-grass and the sword-grass, and the 3 t bulrush in the pool". He is interested i n the exace appearance of trees in 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 in i t s beauty and i t s might From trees and beasts and men into the Heaven's light. (Adonais, Section XLIII) And Wordsworth, discerning in 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 in external nature any evidence for belief i n a spir-i t u a l power. Even when he seemingly' liberated beauty from morality and science(see pp.SJ-^of this chapter), he s t i l l superimposed his religious faith upon his aestheticism in such a way that he was no longer communing with nature, but was escaping into a supernatural realm. As far as nature was con-cerned, "Good" and "Knowledge" were for the Victorian poet the privileged step-sisters of a Cinderella "Beauty" who had no fairy godmother to whom she might look for deliverance. 1 To , I, p.171. E The Brook,. II, p.149. 3 New Year's Eve, I, p.197. 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 silken sheath. 1 And he likes to exhibit his wide knowledge of nature's beauties: Bring orchis, bring the foxglove spire, The l i t t l e speedwell's darling blue, Deep tulips dash'd with f i e r y dew, Laburnums, dropping-welis o f . f i r e . 2 The harsher beauties in 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 is in a mood of calm acceptance. When he is in this mood he can recognize the 3 contrast in 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 retiring thou dost gaze On the prime labour of thine early 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 alleys f a l l i n g down to twilight grots, Or opening upon level plots Of crowned l i l i e s , standing near Purple-spiked lavender: 4 1 A Dream of Fair Women, I, p.216. 2 In Memoriam, III, p.116. 3 cf. Chapter 2,.p .M>, 4 Ode To Memory, I, p.52. One may conclude, then, that Tennyson in a mood when scientific fact and observation are acceptable attains to a measure of admiration for nature. He is able to concede that nature, through the operation of some law or principle (about which Tennyson is not explicit until after 1859, when he accepted Darwin's "natural selection" as the means of nature's evolution) has evolved physical man. He can also admire both the orderly operation of nature's evolution in cosmos and the beauty of an understandable nature on earth. But even when he is calmly appraising nature, Tennyson cannot be completely objective; he is always conscious of the duality existing between man's superior s p i r i t and nature's matter. A pessimistic Tennyson condemning nature Tennyson in his pessimistic moods has to recognize the present actuality of nature; he has to face the implications of inf i n i t e space and time and of cruelty in nature. At such moments he realizes that a universe without bound proclaims the relative insignificance of man: Thereto the silent voice replied; 'Self-blinded are you by your pride; Look up thro* night: the world i s wide. 'This truth within thy mind rehearse, That in a boundless universe Is boundless better, boundless worse. 'Think you this mould of hopes and fears Could find no statelier than his peers, In yonder hundred million spheres? 1 The modern astronomy which reveals this i n f i n i t y of space is for him 1 The Two Voices, I, p.123. A sad astrology, the boundless plan That makes you [i.e. the stars] tyrants in your iron 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 pi t i l e s s for Tennyson when he is aware that both "Astronomy and Geology", chief interpreters 2 of nature, are "terrible muses", astronomy because i t unveils infinite 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 in f i n i t e time required to ascend the ladder of being: Forerun thy peers, thy time, and let Thy feet, milleniums hence, be set In midst of knowledge, dream'd not yet. •Thou hast not gain'd a real height, Nor art|bhou nearer to the light, Because the scale is i n f i n i t e . 3 The golden age of the future i s then but a foolish dream of something that does not exist this side of heaven: •Ah, f o l l y , for i t l i e s so far away, Not in our time, nor in our children's time, 'Tis like 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 this vision of the golden year.• 4 5 This "secular abyss to come" i s , in fact, e v i l , for i t rep-6 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, a phantom 1 Maud, IV, p.192. 2 Parnassus, VII, p.107. 3 The Two Voices. I, p.126. 4 The Golden Year,.II, p.24. 5 In Memoriam, III, p.110. 6 Gareth and Lynette, V, p.74. that even Tennyson's faith i n the immortality of soul oannot dispel. The poem that best expresses Tennyson's awe and fear of this spectre is Vastness. Tennyson in this poem compares a l l the activities 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 last, Swallow'd in Vastness, lost i n Silence, drown'd in the deeps of a meaningless Past? What but a murmur of gnats in the gloom, or a moment's anger of bees in their hive? -§ § § Peace, let i t be! for I loved him, and love him for ever: the dead are not dead but alive. 1 Whatever one may say of the relative strengths of doubt and faith i n this passage, he must admit that nature, responsible for awesome vastness, does not emerge unscathed from this struggle between science and religion. Nature, indeed, is for a pessimistic Tennyson not merely antagonistic, but also cruel. Nature exhibits such waste that the poet cannot conceive of her being benevolent. The indiv-idual creature does not matter to a nature that i s evolving types: It spake, moreover, in my mind: 'Tho' thou wert scatter'd to the wind, Yet is there plenty of the kind.' 3 Although Tennyson in In Memoriam imputes his condemnation of nature to his "lying" sorrow, one feels that he trusts his 1 Vastness, VII, pp.34-,5. £ cf. Chapter 2, pp.H-31-- Tennyson, though he saw plenitude in the cosmos, could not see i t in "earthly" nature. 3 The Two Voices, I, p.123. sorrow more than he trusts wasteful nature: 0 Sorrow, cruel fellowship, 0 Priestess in the vaults of Death, 0 sweet and bitter in a breath, What whispers-from thy lying 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 the phantom, Nature, stands — With a l l the music in her tone, A hollow echo of my own, — A hollow form with empty hands.' And shall I take a thing so blind, 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 blind nature, Tennyson t e l l s us in the same poem, Is., so prodigal that she seems to be in opposition to a God of love who cares for the individual 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 in her deeds, And finding that of f i f t y seeds She often brings but one to bear, 1 falter where I firmly trod... 2 Moreover, nature i s not even careful of the type. There i s no evidence of plenitude in the geological record: 'So careful of the type?' but no. From scarped c l i f f and quarried stone She cries, 'A thousand types are gone: I care for nothing, a l l shall 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, shall he, 1 In Memoriam. I l l , p.43 • 2 In Memoriam: p.92. Man, her last work, who seem'd so f a i r , Such splendid purpose in his. eyes, Who r o l l ' d the psalm to wintry skies, Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer, Who trusted God was love indeed And love Creation's f i n a l law — Tho' Nature,1 red in tooth and claw With ravine, shriek*d against his creed — Who loved, who suffer'd countless i l l s , Who battled for 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 in their slime, Were mellow music match'd with him. 1 Hostile nature, in other words, knows nothing of the s p i r i t u a l l i f e . 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 latter alternative, he makes cruel nature and moral man irreconcil-able foes. Even the misanthropic hero of Maud shows concern over the harsh struggle that takes place in nature: For nature is 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 is a world of plunder and prey. 4 Cruelty in nature, an animistic interpretation of the 5 scientific fact upon which Darwin built his "evolution", thus 1 In Memoriam, pp.92-3. 2 In Memoriam III, p.92. 3 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol. I, pp.321-22. 4 Maud., IV, p.158. 5 cf. Chapter 2, provides for Tennyson no evidence of progress or evolution. It 1 is an " e v i l star" from whose influence moral man should free himself. Besides, Tennyson states, there i s no real;.hope for evolution through the actions of a nature that is not only cruel but "dying". The poet anticipates in In Memoriam the later scientific recognition of Carnot's second law of thermo-dynamics, one of the conclusions of which was that the universe was running down. Contemplate a l l this work of Time, The giant labouring in his youth; Nor dream of human love and truth,' As dying Nature's earth and lime; 2 And in The Epilogue to The Charge, of. the Heavy Brigade Tennyson declares this belief more emphatically: Earth passes, a l l i s lost In what they prophesy, our wise men, Sun-flame or sunless frost, And deed and song alike are swept Away, and a l l in vain As far as man can see, except The-man himself remain: Tennyson had spoken in his youth of a wise 'Nature' that would provide, a place of rest for men, who was sick of Time: Then let wise Nature work her w i l l , . And on my clay her darnel grpw; 4 But this was only a boyhood expression of an eighteenth-century idea. Tennyson could not retain this belief once he realized the existence of a cruel, dying nature. . Nor could he any longer see godlike features in nature: 1 Love Thou Thy Land, I, p.246. 2 In Memoriam. I l l , p.164. 3 The Epilogue to The Charge of The Heavy Brigade.VI,p.514. 4 My Life is F u l l of Weary Days. I, p.102. I found him not i n world or sun, Or eagle's wing, or. insect's eye; 1 Tennyson's p r e s c r i p t i o n of looking to the bright future became, therefore, a desperate remedy when he looked d i r e c t l y at the cruelty, blindness, and vastness of nature. Platitudes l i k e For a l l ' s well that ends well, Whirl,' and follow the Sun! 2 could give no consolation to a Tennyson facing nature i n i t s present a c t u a l i t y . Attempted Pantheism Before 1859.Tennyson thought that he had achieved a workable compromise between science and r e l i g i o n , a compro-mise which permitted nature a subordinate place i n the o v e r a l l plan of God., the plan, that separated moral man from the quest-ionable a c t i v i t i e s of nature. .Darwin's theory, 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 right back into the natural scene. Darwin's conclusions forced the poet to seek refuge i n the only sanctuary open to him, namely, Pantheism. But Pantheism meant interpreting the uni-verse through the observed course of^iature, not through the soul 4 of man. Hence Tennyson was faced with an impasse. How could he regard material nature as r e a l i t y when he believed 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 how could he equate a God of love to a nature i n which he saw so much e v i l ? 1 In Memoriam, I I I , p.170. 2 The Dreamer, VII, p.179. 3 c f . Chapter 2, p.f-l-4 J.H. Randall, The Making of the Modern Mind, p.415. 5 c f . Chapter 2. 80 Nevertheless , he made an attempt to embrace Pantheism. Let us look at a demonstration of hi s inev i tab le f a i l u r e , a 1 poem c a l l e d The Higher Pantheism. Tennyson opens h i s poem by i n q u i r i n g i f phys i ca l nature i s not a v i s i o n of God: The sun, the moon, the s t a r s , the seas, the h i l l s and the p la ins — Are not these, 0 Sou l , the v i s i o n of Him who reigns? But then he admits that the appearance of nature i s no manifest-a t ion of God's existence: Is not the V i s i o n He? tho ' He be not that which He seems? Dreams are true while they l a s t , and do we not l i v e i n dreams? Moreover, Tennyson continues, p h y s i c a l nature i s a symbol of the sou 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 imb , Are they not s ign and symbol of thy d i v i s i o n from Him? The mater ia l worldjhe then postu la tes , i s incomprehensible because of man's separat ion from God. Yet , he goes on, i s God not everything except man's i n d i v i d u a l and immortal s p i r i t ? Dark i s the world to thee: thyse l f a r t the reason why; For i s He not a l l but that which has power to f e e l »I am I ' ? Man's duty, therefore , i s to t r y to see God i n nature, even though he cannot do so. Glory about thee, without thee; and thou f u l f i l l e s t thy 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. And how may man f u l f i l this duty? —by allowing his individual s p i r i t to commune in a mystical way with an immanent, personal God who is not discernible in nature. Speak to Him thou for he hears, and Sp i r i t with Spi r i t can meet — Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet. Then Tennyson makes a valiant effort to reconcile God with the only aspect of nature with which compromise was possible, that i s , the orderly law of the universe. Yet here he f a i l s com-pletely. For he cannot convince himself that an identity exists between God and the law of nature. Certainly he is 1 able to say that God is law. God is law, say the wise; 0 Soul, and let us rejoice, For i f He thunder by law the thunder i s yet His voice. But he cannot complete the identity. If law is God, then man i s , for Tennyson, completely bound by nature's necessity, bound by a law that makes no provision for the perpetuation of human personality and moral responsibility; and Tennyson cannot believe that these absolutes do not exist. Beside, he objects, how can man state that law i s God or that there is no God at a l l , when a l l man sees i s the appearance of things? Law is God, say some: no God at a l l , says the fool; For a l l we have power to see is a straight staff bent in a pool; 1 His belief that man evolves only through the exercise of his divine morality, his conscience that communes with God,# allows him to make this statement. # cf. 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 Vision, were i t not He? Tennyson thus concludes a circular argument which begins and ends with the same question: i f man could see proof of God in nature, would nature not be God? Because the poet cannot accept a blending of man's sp i r i t into a general soul,'*' and because he w i l l relinquish neither his faith in man's absolute morality nor his suspicion of a physical nature that is not at a l l godlike in her oper-ations, his "Higher Pantheism" i s merely a form of words that 2 expresses a definite monotheism. Tennyson i s able to see sp i r i t , the Reality, only in a personal God and in individual man, not in nature, even though he wishes he could have faith in the pantheistic solution: Flower in the crannied wall, I pluck you out of the crannies, I hold you here, root and a l l , in 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 in a l l , I should know what God and man i s . 1 cf. Chapter 2, p.V4>—Tennyson's emotional need for a personal immortality made i t impossible for him to accept Goethe's pantheistic naturalism. 2 cf. Benn, The History of English Rationalism in the  Nineteenth Century, Vol.11, p.300 -- "Now, what Tennyson calls the Higher Pantheism is 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 responsibility intact. But pan-theism, whether Hindoo or German, had always treated the mod-ifications of our inner consciousness, feelings, thoughts, and wishes, as no less phenomenal than the sensible appear-ances we c a l l matter; and God, conceived as substance, is ' just as much the re 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 in 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 cf. Chapter 2, p.S"/. 4 "Flower in the crannied wall", II, p.292. 83 Mystical apprehension of "supernature" Pantheism was not feasible for Tennyson because i t was based on a philosophy incompatible with his religious f a i t h . But mysticism, i f we can so c a l l i t in Tennyson's case, did furnish a synthesis that temporarily satisfied the poet, for this mysticism resulted from his intense emotional need. At rare moments Tennyson was able, by means of his concentration on intuitive 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 spiritual progress, and the certainty of personal immortality -- to have a mystical ex-perience of sorts, in 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 real connection with nature. Tenn-yson's personal mysticism may be compared with mathematics; each is 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 his trance state are also supernatural; their emphasis i s upon the s p i r i t of God and man, not on the materiality 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 cf. Kant's influence - Chapter 2. But the emotional need, not the philosophical dialectic, produced Tennyson's trance state.. 2 In Memoriam. I l l , p.171. 84 At such moments Tennyson does not recognize nature as actual. He feels rather that, when he is "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 their green, The noble letter of the dead: And strangely on the silence broke The silent-speaking words, and strange Was love's dumb cry defying change To test his worth; and strangely spoke The fa 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 line by line, The dead man touch'd me from the past, And a l l at once it-seem'd at last The. living soul was flash'd on mine, And mine in this 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, stricken thro' with doubt. 2 When he apprehends this plan during the trance, Tennyson is able 3 to see nature as spi r i t u a l harmony. But he is then looking at an ideal 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 -uality of nature". The poet, whenever he refers to nature as spir i t u a l , i s really speaking of a "supernature". 1 Poems, III, p.252(notes).. 2 In Memoriam, III, pp.136-37. 3 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol.I, p.319. 4 Nicolson, Tennyson, p.278. 85 Other Escapes into a "supernature" In order to complete the record of Tennyson's idea of nature, that i s , to show that nature meant for the poet only the material world, i t i s necessary to treat of several other escapes sometimes resorted to by Tennyson. Although these evasions, of which I s h a l l discuss three, have a f f i n i t i e s with mysticism, they do not occur when the poet i s i n the trance state; therefore they require separate treatment. The 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 related to Tennyson's transcendental views. When the poet looks at nature i n the springtime, he i s able to believe that God's immanence i s manifest i n the l i f e renewing i t s e l f : Once more the Heavenly Power Makes a l l things new, And domes the red-plow'd h i l l s With loving blue; The blackbirds have t h e i r w i l l s , The throstles too. Opens a door i n Heaven From skies of glass A Jacob's ladder f a l l s On greening grass And o'er the mountain walls Young angels pass. 1 And he can f e e l a supernatural touch i n the "ambrosial a i r " that brings peace. Sweet a f t e r showers, ambrosial a i r , That r o l l e s t from the gorgeous gloom Of evening over brake and bloom And meadow, slowly breathing bare The round of space, and rapt below Thro' a l l the dewy-tassell'd wood, And shadowing down the horned flood In r i p p l e s , fan my brows and blow 1 E a r l y Spring, 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, let the fancy f l y From belt to belt of crimson seas On leagues of odour streaming far, To where in yonder orient star A hundred spirits whisper 'Peace' 1 His occasional retreat into a romantic primitivism i s likewise an expression of his longing for an ideal nature. For example, because he had never visited the tropics, he could imagine a perfect, though unreal, nature existing there; By peaks that flamed, or, a l l in shade, Gloom'd the low coast and quivering brine With ashy rains, that spreading made Fantastic plume or sable pine; By sands and steaming f l a t s , and floods Of mighty mouth, we scudded fast, 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, Fairily-delicate palaces shine Mixt with myrtle and clad with vine, And overstream'd and silvery-streak'd With many a rivulet high against the Sun The facets of the glorious mountain flash, Above the valleys of palm and pine. 3 Of course, Tennyson characteristically spurns a flight of this sort because i t is unbecoming to moral man, who must suffer the discipline of actual nature. But he does not condemn another kind of escape, namely the idealizing of nature through the eyes of love, for pure love was to him of Supernatural origin. Tennyson's descriptions 1 In Memoriam, III, pp.124-25. 2 The Voyage, II, p.110. 3 The Islet, II, pp.276-77. of the valley and h i l l s in Oenone are not designed for the edification or! moral improvement of his readers, hut are un-restrainedly devoted to capturing the beauty of Cauteretz, that sacred valley through which Tennyson and Arthur Hallam journeyed together. There l i e s a vale i n Ida, lovelier 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 loiters, slowly drawn. On either hand The lawns and meadow-ledges midway down Hang rich in flowers, and far below them roars. The long brook f a l l i n g thro' the clov'n ravine In cataract after cataract to the sea. 1 And "Come into the garden, Maud", the l y r i c a l refrain of Maud's lover, presents a similar view of an ideal nature, a nature which bears a supernatural imprint because i t i s the personifi-cation of man's divine love. The stress in both these passages is on the s p i r i t of man, 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 herself. Nature, in spite of a l l the poet's attempts to arrive at a fu l l e r comprehension of her, remains for Tennyson primarily the physical world revealed by science. 1 Oenone, I, p.158. 2 cf. Chapter 2, wherein was a speculation that Tennyson's romanticism or mysticism might permit a "natural supernaturalism". 88 Nature i n Tennyson: Summary Tennyson's acceptance of s c i e n t i f i c fact i n i n t e r p r e t i n g nature forced, him, as science became increasingly m a t e r i a l i s t i c , into a more and more d e f i n i t e dualism. God and man could not be reconciled with material nature- except on the basis of law. Therefore, while t h i s law of uninterrupted progress or evolution i n nature indicated an understandable order i n the universe, Tennyson admired nature; gradual change i n the cosmos, on earth, and i n man's body were necessary parts of a u n i f i e d evolution-ary pattern. As long as the poet was able to view the general p r i n c i p l e s of evolution from a distance or with an eye to the future, he could r e l a t e immutable law i n nature to God's law, 1 the force c o n t r o l l i n g nature. But when he r e a l i z e d — and t h i s r e a l i z a t i o n came early i n his l i f e — that nature's order did not conform with his ideas of an absolute morality and of a beneficent God, the compromise, no matter how strongly Tennyson protested to the contrary, was not possible. When he judged nature, through the authority of science, as the actual, nine-teenth-century, physical world, he had to conclude that her blind wastefulness and her awesome vastness not only were detrimental to his b e l i e f i n man's divine s p i r i t but were i r r e c o n c i l a b l e with the omnipotence and benevolence of the 1 The Ancient Sage, VI, p.201, 2 of. Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, Vol.11, p.171 for Tenny-son's reference to the d e f i n i t i o n s of "nature", "natural" and "supernatural" given by Reverend F.D. Maurice i n a paper read to the metaphysical society. Both Maurice and Tennyson l i k e d these Coleridgean d e f i n i t i o n s because they harmonized the "uniformity of the material world" and the "freedom of the s p i r i t u a l world". Creator. Actual nature was for the poet, from 1833 on, antag-onistic to man. After Hallam !s death nature became for Tenn-1 yson a "distressful necessity" which would lead man's sp i r i t away from G-od, and even away from further progress (since nature was dying). Therefore Tennyson, well before 1859, took 2 progress out of nature's hands and presented i t to moral man 3 and to God. Moral man, Tennyson believed after 1842, had a specific duty. He was, f i r s t , to observe the general principles by means of which nature had evolved to her limit (physical man) and, secondly, to exercise his divine Free Will, his "highest 4 5 Human Nature" which was not bound by nature's laws, in order to ensure the future evolution of the human race and of a higher race of spiritual 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 in opposition to both God and man. And the more knowledge the poet accumulated, the more distinct this dualistic 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 flesh 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) is interesting: "Moral and sp i r i t u a l traits of character are more dwelt upon, in place of external scenery and circumstance". 3 cf. Chapter 2. 4 Looksley Hall Sixty Years After, VI, p.304. 5 Will, II, p.267 and The Voyage, II, p.112. 90 goodt After 1859 the Laureate could j u s t i f y l i f e only by assuming that man's immortal s p i r i t was merely banished into 2 material nature for a short period of d i s c i p l i n e : . . . 0 dear S p i r i t h a l f - l o s t In thine own shadow and t h i s f l e s h l y sign That thou art thou — who wailest being born And banish'd into mystery, and the pain Of this d i v i s i b l e - i n d i v i s i b l e world Among the 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 mortal v e i l And shatter'd phantom of that i n f i n i t e One, ?ifho made thee unconeeivably Thyself Out of His whole World-self and a l l i n a l l — Live thou.' and of the grain and husk, the grape And ivyberry, choose; and s t i l l depart From death to death thro' l i f e and l i f e , and f i n d Nearer and ever nearer Him, who wrought Not Matter, 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 art thou, With power on thine own act and on the world. 3 Tennyson, looking upon nature as actual and material, had to admit that he could not believe that God would create "a thing so b l i n d " . Yet, on the other hand, he had to recog-nize the d u a l i t y of man's being: the physical man i n nature, the s p i r i t u a l man separated from nature. His f i n a l p o s i t i o n concerning nature was an unhappy one, for i t was based on a b e l i e f i n a universe operating according to f i x e d , m a t e r i a l i s t i c laws which Tennyson, as champion of science, had to accept as true but which, because of his f a i t h i n the R e a l i t y of man's s p i r i t , he likewise had to assume to be f a l s e for man. 0 Purblind race of miserable men, How many among us at thi s very hour Do forge a l i f e - l o n g trouble f o r ourselves, By taking true for f a l s e , or f a l s e for true; Here, thro' the feeble t w i l i n g t of t h i s world Groping, how many, u n t i l we pass and reach That other, where we see as we are seen.' 1 Hallam Tennyson, Memoir, V o l . I I , pp.1 2 3 - 1 3 4 . 2 c f . Chapter 2 , p. «f7.(Bishop Butl e r ) . 3 De Profundis. VI, p.1 7 9 . 4 Geraint and Enid. V, p.1 1 9 . 91 MEREDITH'S CONCEPT OF NATURE His peculiarity was an apt common-sense, which rested upon a cheerful disposition, and took delight in uniform habitual activity. That he should labour inces-santly was his f i r s t and most necessary care; that he regarded everything else as secondary, - this kept up his comfortable state of mind; and I must reckon him before many others in the class of those who are called practical unconscious philosophers. 1 My purpose in this 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 in i t s essentials while i t embraced Darwinism and the new morality arising from Darwinism, and seoond, to determined Meredith's mature concept of nature. In pursuing this plan, I shall deal chiefly with-Meredith's poetry, for I ? l i k e Trevelyan, believe that "Mr. Meredith's religion, philosophy, and ethics, which inspire and illuminate his novels, are 2 expressed more f u l l y and in more exact terms in his poems". Chrysalis Period - up to 1859 It is 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, for Meredith was extremely reticent about his private l i f e . The biographers and essayists who have commented on Meredith's idea of nature invariably have had to 1 John Oxenford, translator, The Autobiography of Goethe. "Truth and Poetry: From My Own Li f e " , London, George Bell 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 origin of his beliefs. Tennyson has been named as the inspiration of the sentimental spiritualism in Meredith's early nature poems} Mary (Peacock Nicolls) Meredith has been given credit for his belief in the s p i r i t u a l i t y of 2 3 love and for 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 for influencing Meredith in these early years of his l i f e . A l l these'hypotheses, i t is true, are sup-ported by the idea of nature that one finds in 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 is no evidence in Meredith's poetry to justify that assumption. The relative consistency of the poet's concept of nature should, I believe, lead one to the more logical conclusion that Meredith relied on one source of wisdom, one coherent philosophy of l i f e into which a l l the distrubing facts and theories of nineteenth-century science could be f i t t e d . I contend that this 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 in this f i r s t chrysalis period - Wordsworth, "the voice of great Nature'^obviously had a very marked effect on the youthful Meredith - but I do believe that Goethe was the fount of wisdom at which Meredith refreshed his philosophy throughout a l l his formative years. As J.W. Beach says: "Goethe's idea of •Try to understand thyself, and to understand nature ...' i s 2 the theme of Meredith in a l l his writings, prose and verse". In his letters Meredith frequently recognizes the effect on him of this r e a l i s t i c Goethian approach to nature. He t e l l s us that, of the influences forming his philosophy, Goethe's 3 influence was "the most enduring". And he praises Goethe's faith in the unity of the real and the ideal, Goethe's belief 4 that the ideal must be based upon the real: Between realism and idealism there is no natural conflict. This completes that...I hold the man who gives a plain wall of fact higher in esteem than one who is constantly shuffling 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, inimical Inane? For my part I love and cling 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 early poetry, let us 1 The Poetry of Wordsworth. I, p.30. - A l l footnotes to quotations from Meredith's poetry refer to the Memorial Edition (Vols. 24,25,26,27) of Meredith's Works (published by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1910. 2 J.W. Beach, The Comic Spirit in George Meredith, Longmans, Green, and Co., New York, 1911, p.186. 3 Letters, II, p.578 - footnotes to quotations from Meredith's letters also refer to the Memorial Edition of his works. 4 The "real" for Meredith corresponds to what Tennyson sees as the "actual". Similarly the "ideal" for Meredith is the "Real" for Tennyson. 5 Letters, I, p.156-7. 94 look for specific ideas on nature that closely parallel those of the German poet. Acceptance of a beneficent > motherly nature In this 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 in nature. His acceptance of the beneficent Mother is complete and un-qualified. Accept, he t e l l s us, nature in her "beauty and 1 wisdom, gentleness, joyance, and kindness!" If you would be free and i f you would learn about the world, Meredith prescribes 2 in words reminiscent, both of Goethe and of Wordsworth, then resign yourselves to the mentorship of great Nature: The voice of nature is abroad This night; she f i l l s the air with balm; Her mystery is o'er the land; And who that hears her now and yields His being to her yearning tones, And seats his soul upon her wings, And broadens o'er the wind-swept world With her, w i l l gather in the flight More knowledge of her secret, more Delight in her beneficence, Than hours of musing, or the lore That lives 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 is close to Meredith's resignation —"Freedom consists not in refusing to recognize anything above us, but in respecting something which is above us; for, by respecting i t , we raise ourselves to i t , and, by our very acknowledgment, prove that we bear within ourselves what is higher, and are worthy to be on a level with i t 1 ' . 3 South-West Wind in The Woodland, I, p.45. 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 feeling Born not of her bosom; Content with-all her truths and fates; Ev'n as yon strip of grass that bows Above the new-born violet 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 is f i r s t , his transport of youthful joy, nature's chief inspiration for man: Oh! do not say that this w i l l ever cease; -This joy of woods and fi e l d s , This youth that nature yields, Will never speak to me in vain, tho' soundly rapt in peace. 3 and second, his trust that this joy i s no dream, no trick of 4 nature *s: No disenchantment follows here, For nature's inspiration moves The dream which she herself f u l f i l s ; And he whose heart, like valley warmth, Steams up with joy at scenes like this Shall never be forlorn. 5 1 South-West Wind in The Woodland, I, p.45. 2 Pastorals, I, p.78. 3 Song, I, p.116. 4 cf. Goethe ("Truth and Poetry", Vol.1, p.186) -"Surely there i s no more beautiful adoration of the-Deity than that which needs no image, but which springs up in our bosom merely from the intercourse with nature." 5 Pastorals, I, p.75. The scheme of nature 96 [Nature's law] This joyful acceptance of a beneficent nature permits Meredith in this early period to take nature's sombre law of change, of constant alternation of l i f e and death, and to see in i t a scheme which, though vague, contains no inherent con-1 2 tradictions. To avoid inconsistency he, like Goethe, bases his scheme upon nature's immutable law that cannot be read as an anthropomorphic reflection of man's changeable feeling:. Tho' a l l thy great emotions like 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, especially Winter, because through their frequent death they sustain new l i f e : 0 Winter! I'd live that l i f e of thine, With a frosty brow and an i c i c l e tongue, And never a song my whole l i f e long, -Were such delicious burial mine! To die andA.buried, and so remain A wandering brook in April's train, Fixing my dying eyes for aye On the dawning brows of maiden May. 4 And he sees in the snowdrop's short l i f e span something good, an example for man. The death of the snowdrop is not to be 1 cf. Goethe (Eckermann, Conversations, p.191) - "I have always avoided contradictions, have striven to dispel the doubts within me, and have uttered only the results I have discovered." 2 cf. Goethe on natural catastrophes (Eckermann, Conversations, p.75) - "Nature goes her own way...and a l l that to us seems an exception is really 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 birth of the rose. Meredith thus makes of death both a sacrifice and a service to 2 future generations. Nevertheless, the poet realizes that death's blow brings grief to the liv i n g . But he has a way out of this dilemma too. His philosophy, based on nature's law, is not vanquished by sorrow as was that of the philosopher in Rasselas, for Meredith, like Wordsworth, can look to nature as healer and teacher i n adversity. Look for prophetic sight, he says, to the light of the stars; see the trusting love the flowers have for nature; understand the prophecy of l i f e in the snowdrop; then realize how you are a bud sprung from the dead stem of him for whom 3 you grieve. In other words, give way to your grief for a moment, and then peroeive that your sorrow i s proof of a motherly love because i t is so closely akin to joy in the 4 fecundity and beauty of nature. Meredith thus approves of nature's prodigality, for he sees in i t both a manifestation of nature's concern for 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 is alive, Bird and beetle, man and mole; Bee-like goes the human hive, Lark-like sings the soaring soul: Hearty faith and honest cheer Welcome i n the sweet o* the year. 5 1 The Wild Rose and the Snowdrop, I,pp.17-18. 2 cf. Goethe (Eckermann, Conversations, p.294) - "The Divinity works in the l i v i n g , not in the dead; in the becoming and changing, not in the become and fixed." 3 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. Beauty, too, he connects with this law of change upon which he 1 2 bases his concept of nature. Transient, changing beauty i s a source of pleasure, to him because i t illustrates nature's benevolent rule: Beauty renews i t s e l f in many ways: The flower i s fading while the new bud blows; And the beauty which he most appreciates is that which reveals contrasts, especially contrasting light and darkness, for in scenes of this sort nature is 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 re-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 fierce love, Gloom below and gleam above. But Meredith's great joy is the dawn, for in the sunrise he sees exemplified the warmth of new l i f e - l i f e naturally had a stronger" appeal to his cheerful temperament than did the death 5 that made l i f e possible. He frequently attributes godlike 1 cf. 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... is the qase not only with pur other senses, but also with our higher spiritual nature". 2 cf. Keats's Ode On a Grecian Urn. Meredith, unlike Keats, does not worry about the relative permanence or trans-ience of beauty. Beauty i s , in fact, more "truthful" for Meredith when i t i s transient, for non-permanence amongst nature's creations is 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 cf. Goethe (Eckermann, Conversations, p.422) - "If I am asked whether i t is i n my nature to revere the Sun, I... say - certainly. For he is...a manifestation of the highest Being, and indeed the most powerful that we children of earth are allowed to behold. I adore in him the light and the pro-ductive 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." qualities'to 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 light and warmth.* 2 And he greets happily the reawakening of l i f e and light 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 like a nun, And looks upon the landscape blue and clear; -The lark is up; the h i l l s , the vines in sight; The river broadens with his waking bliss And throws up islands to behold the>light; Voices begin to rise, a l l hues to kiss;-Was ever such a happy morn as this I Birds sing, we shoutflowers breathe,trees shine with one delight! 3 Amid a l l this 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 for 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 individual and immortal soul. No doubt he, like Goethe, saw "more and more distinctly, that i t is 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 in that black hollow -It's just a place where we're held in pawn, And, when the Great Juggler makes as to swallow, It's just the sword-trick — 5 1 Daphne, I,' p.59. 2 Pastorals, I, p.80. 3 Pictures of The Rhine, I, p.121. 4 Oxenford, Goethe: "Truth and Poetry", Vol.11, p.157. 5 Juggling Jerry, I, p.137. 100 Yet M e r e d i t h does h i n t at h i s l a t e r b e l i e f t h a t our immor-t a l i t y l i e s i n our bequeathing knowledge and v i g o u r to the 1 f u t u r e g e n e r a t i o n . He notes t h a t the n i g h t i n g a l e does not heed the death around i t when i t i s engaged w i t h i t s progeny: The .waves of f e r n may fade and burn, The grasses may f a l l , the f l o w e r s and a l l , And the p i n e - s m e l l s o'er the oak d e l l s F l o a t on t h e i r drowsy and odorous wings, But thou w i l t do n o t h i n g but coo, • Brimming the nest w i t h thy brooding b r e a s t , 'Midst t h a t young throng of f u t u r e song, Round whom the Future s i n g s . 2 And he p r a i s e s a Glasgow poet's attempt to a c h i e v e fame through 3 h i s work, f o r M e r e d i t h f e e l s sure t h a t "to noble impulse Nature 4 puts no ban". Man's p l a c e i n nature's scheme Man, f o r M e r e d i t h , has no a l t e r n a t i v e but to accept nature's benevolent law. And i f he should l i v e an u n n a t u r a l l i f e , then he must expect to pay the consequences. I t i s p o s s i b l e , M e r e d i t h s t a t e s , f o r man to t r a n s g r e s s and s t i l l be 5 accepted back by the g r e a t Mother; but f o r him who has s t r a y e d too f a r from nature, as d i d S i r A u s t i n F e v e r e l , the punishment i s t e r r i b l e . Even the i n n o c e n t s , Lucy and R i c h a r d , who are 1 Both the g e n e r a l ideas of progress and the f a c t of change i n nature c o u l d have implanted t h i s i d e a i n Meredith's mind. 2 To A N i g h t i n g a l e , I, p.123. 3 c f . Goe the (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 people...who have nothing to do. But an a b l e man, who has something r e g u l a r to do here, and must t o i l and s t r u g g l e and produce day by day, l e a v e s the f u t u r e world, to 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 of work, s t e r n e r than Goethe's i d e a , would also' have i n f l u e n c e d M e r e d i t h i n the w r i t i n g of t h i s poem.) 4 To A l e x . Smith, The 'Glasgow Poet', I , p.164. 5 see London by Lamplight, I , p.70. 101 caught i n the t o i l s of S i r Austin's "system", must suffer for his s i n against nature. Lucy dies, and Richard, we are t o l d at the end of the novel, faces a f u t i l e , v i r t u a l l y l i f e l e s s existence. What, then, i s Meredith's early p r e s c r i p t i o n (beyond mere acceptance of nature) f o r the happy l i f e ? F i r s t , man must recognize the importance of his sensations, his most immediate t i e with nature. Meredith agrees with Goethe"*" that any neglect of the senses produces an unnatural state of a f f a i r s . "Honest passion", the English poet t e l l s us, "can be safer than conscious 2 wisdom", for nature approves of passion as the f i r s t and neces-sary step towards a purer love: Great Pan i n his covert Beheld the rare g l i s t e n i n g , The cry of the love hurt, The sigh and the kiss "Of the la t e s t close mingling: But love, thought he, l i s t e n i n g , W i l l not do a dove hurt, 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 thro 1 him, I wis, For the Nymph he was s i n g l i n g . 3 The c u l t i v a t i o n of man's brain i s a second matter with which Meredith wants man to concern himself. But the poet would not have man stress t h i s development to the. exclusion of his senses. Though Meredith i s not in.complete accord with 1 c f . Goethe ("Truth and Poetry", Vol.1, p.503) - "The separation of the sensual from the moral, which i n the com-pli c a t e d , c u l t i v a t e d world sunders the feelings of love and desire, produces...an exaggeration which can lead to no good." 2 G. Meredith, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, New York, The Modern Library, 1927, p.331. 3 The Pape of. Aurora, I, p.41 102 Lady Blandish's condemnation of science} he does see the danger of ignoring l i f e i n order to pursue an idea based upon a purely 2 s c i e n t i f i c theory. "Men's thoughts", he f e e l s , "must borrow - i 3 [_from naturej rather than bestow." But the poet wishes man to be more than a s e l f i s h creature driven by his passions. Go out to nature, he suggests to the egoist, and experience the cleansing e f f e c t of her 4 storms; then you w i l l be at one with nature's creatures and with man i n The ebb and flow of Nature's t i d e ; A s e l f - f o r g e t f u l sympathy. 5 This a l t r u i s t i c tendency operative among the animals (e s p e c i a l l y the b i r d s ) , Meredith opines, is-something which man would do well to emulate, for i t shows that the basic meaning of nature 7 for man i s the future brotherhood of the' human race. Meredith 8 thus gives to nature an e t h i c a l as well as a creative meaning, though he admits that altruism i s not immediately apparent i n nature's law but only i n the actions of her creatures. 1 Meredith, Richard Feverel, p.588-9. 2 c f . Goethe (Bckermann, Conversations, p.349) - "Nap-oleon affords an example of the danger of elevating oneself to the Absolute and s a c r i f i c i n g everything to the carrying out of an idea." 3 Pastorals, I, p.78. 4 Meredith, Richard Feverel, pp. 556-58. 5 The Two Blackbirds, I, p.95. 6 c f . Goethe on altruism i n birds (Eckermann, Conversat-ions , p.412) - "Did not God inspire the bird with t h i s a l l -powerful love for i t s young, and did not similar impulses pervade a l l animate nature, the world could not subsist. But this i s the divine energy everywhere dif f u s e d , and divine love everywhere active . " 7 The Olive Branch, I, p.13. 8 Albert Schweitzer, Goethe, London, Adam and Charles Black, 1949, p.72 - "Goethe believes... that God, who i s iden-t i c a l with Nature, by means of what for us i s an unfathomable mystery, i s not only creative force but also e t h i c a l w i l l . " The f i n e s t manifestation for Meredith of both e t h i c a l w i l l and creative force i s love, for love has i n i t both s p i r i t u a l and earthly q u a l i t i e s - creative power i n i t s passion 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 love attains to the proportions of a law of nature, the law which man may see behind her outward law of l i f e and death. Love i s something beyond philosophy, beyond science; i t i s the "super-sensual spring of the ripe senses into passion"! Love of nature 2 and of man or woman i s f o r Meredith the surest road to the v i t a l s p i r i t behind nature's'outward dress, to the s p i r i t which man must recognize 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 Highest. She i s not a l l dust, but a l i v i n g portion of the spheres. In a s p i r a t i o n i t i s our error to despise her, forgetting that through Nature only can we ascend. 4 The benevolent s p i r i t of l i v i n g nature recognizes t h i s "aspiring love" 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; consequently, the marriage of true lovers also means the wedding of both with nature's s p i r i t : 1 Meredith, Richard Feverel, p.194. 2 Meredith's passionate love f o r Mary (Peacock) N i c o l l s was probably the chief reason f o r his placing love i n such a pre-eminent p o s i t i o n at t h i s time. 3 cf. Goethe ("Truth and Poetry", Vol.1, p.470) - "I sought to free myself from a l l that was foreign to me, to regard the external with love, and to allow a l l beings, from man downwards, as low as they were comprehensible to act upon me, each aft e r i t s own kind. Thus arose a wonderful a f f i n i t y with the single objects of nature, and a hearty concord, a harmony with the whole." 4 Meredith, Richard Feverel, p.240. And thus i n me, and thus i n me, they said, Earth's mists did with the sweet hew s p i r i t wed. 1 The voice of-nature's s p i r i t , which i s so d i s t i n c t i f one approaches nature i n the r i g h t way, exists f o r Meredith not 2 just i n man 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 birds, e s p e c i a l l y the skylarks. The "low-pervading breeze" brings to the poet "a whisper from the stars ... l i k e the strings Of a s i l v e r harp swept by a s p i r i t ' s hand In some strange glimmering land, 'Mid gushing springs, And gli s t e n i n g s Of waters and of planets, wild and grand! 3 But the South-West wind i s nature's clearest voice, t e l l i n g , l i k e the sun, of nature's physical and s p i r i t u a l l i f e - " A l l warmth, a l l sweetness, comes with the South-West" 4 says Richard 5 Feverel to his f r i e n d Ripton. And the skylark too speaks of l i f e i n joyous tones so s i m i l a r to those of nature exulting i n her creations that Meredith imagines an i d e n t i t y e x i s t i n g : 0 Skylark! I see thee and c a l l thee joy! Thy wings bear thee, up to the breast of the dawn; 1 see thee no more, but thy 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 productive 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 fresh a i r of the open country i s our proper element; i t i s as i f the breath of God were there wafted immediately to men and a divine power exerted i t s influence". 3 Twilight Music, I, p.34. 4 Meredith, Richard Feverel, p.304. 5 cf. Shelley's Ode To A Skylark - Meredith's s p i r i t i n nature d i f f e r s from Shelley'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 Skylark, I, p.84. 105 It i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note that t h i s creed of Meredith's, though i t includes s p i r i t , i s of Earth, not of the universe. Meredith obviously found i t very d i f f i c u l t to bring the cosmos into the close i n t e r - r e l a t i o n s h i p of nature and man. In f a c t , he even shied away from the immenseness and incomprehensibility of mountains, for high mountains appeared to "reach up to a fro s t y , i n i m i c a l Inane". Meredith did not, l i k e Wordsworth, want to be caught i n the dualism that transcendentalism fos-^ tered; but his impression on viewing mountain heights almost forced him into t h i s trap. His view of the Alps i n 1861"'" •aroused the fears he had entertained i n writing one of his 1851 poems: 0 Mountain! h i d from peak to base, And image of the awful power With whibh the secret of a l l things, That stoops from heaven to garment earth, Can speak to any human soul, When once the earthly l i m i t s lose Their pointed heights and sharpened l i n e s , And measureless immensity Is palpable to sense and sight. Yet his whole philosophy of nature even in. 1851 would have confirmed, as i t did i n 1861, his f a i t h i n Earth; transcenden-talism was not for him: Our great error has been (the^rror 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 Alp does touch the Heavens? 3 1 Let t e r s , I, p.33 -"""My f i r s t sight of the Alps has raised odd feelings. Here at l a s t seems something more than earth, and v i s i b l e , i f not tangible. They have the whiteness, the s i l e n c e , the beauty and mystery of thoughts seldom un-veiled within us, but which conquer Earth when once they are. In f a c t they have made my creed tremble. - only for a time." 2 "Swathed round i n mist and crown'd with cloud",1,p.92. 3 Letters, I, p.33. 106 Nature philosophy i n Meredith before 1859; Summary It is apparent that Meredith's pre-Darwinian philosophy of nature is not a unified concept. For Meredith in this period stresses "blood" rather than "brain" or '-'spirit". That i s , his emphasis is 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 his sheer passionate delight in nature's beauty and fecundity i s .a pagan adoration different from the "high 1 ethereal love with which Wordsworth regarded nature". Mere-dith's attitude really brings him closer to Goethe than to - • 2 Wordsworth, for i t emphasizes man's physical activity and joy in nature rather than his passive acceptance of her benevolence. Yet Meredith does lay the groundwork for the intellectual and s p i r i t u a l components of his mature philosophy. There i s nothing in Meredith's early writings to indicate a belief i n a struggle which w i l l evolve, in turn/ 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 battling the elements is evidence that Meredith would fight courageously in the ranks of the f i t t e s t to make possible man's progress toward a l t r u i s t i c s p i r i t . Moreover, that he does see in nature's law of change 1 A.T. Strong, Three Studies in Shelley and An Essay on  Nature in Wordsworth and Meredith, London, Oxford University Press, 1921, p.161. 2 cf. Goethe ("Truth and Poetry", p.234) - "A man remains of consequence, not so far as he leaves something behind him, but so far as he acts and enjoys, and rouses others to action and enjoyment."' 107 a hint of evolution is apparent from an observation he made in the Monthly Observer (c.1850): The universe...is but a succession of links, and we are a l l united in nobility and gentleness and love. 1 His concept of s p i r i t i s not very clear, i t i s true. But is i t ever distinctly defined in his poetry? One can at least state that, following Goethe, Meredith conceived of s p i r i t as something which was part of Earth. Meredith's early poetry does not justify J.W. Gunliffe's statement that the poet "took 2 over Wordsworth's transcendental view of nature". Archibald, Strong's distinction between Meredith and Wordsworth is more to the point: To Wordsworth Nature gave intimations of some-thing that transcended her and was not herself. To Meredith she bore no message but that written plain on her face for a l l to read. 3 Transcendentalism would have introduced an unwanted contradiction into Meredith's philosophy of nature, for, though he had not formulated his complete concept of nature by 1859, he had er-ected, mainly on a Goethian base, a consistent framework that contained a l l the elements of which his f i n a l concept con-sisted. 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 Life of George Meredith. New York, Charles Scribner's Sons,-1929, p.27. (Quoted from an unpub-lished MS. in Widener Library at Harvard). 2 J.W. Cunliffe, Leaders of the Victorian Revolution. New York and. London, D. Appleton Century Co. Inc., 1934, p.215. 3 Strong, Wordsworth and Meredith, p.164. 108 First Impact of Darwinism (1859-1871) Lionel 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 scientists announced i t ; but thereafter he devoted himself to i t unstintingly. When he became acquainted with Darwinism, his philosophic system developed promptly and com-pletely; so the stages of i t s growth cannot be chronicled...the evolutionary interpretation of the universe...determined his whole outlook. 1 Mr. Stevenson, I believe, puts the matter too bluntly. The very fact that Meredith does not mention Darwin in his letters indicates to me that the scientist's theory had the effect of unifying Meredith's philosophy, not of adding something of import to i t . This unification, moreover, was not immediate; i t is calling the sincerity 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 originator. Meredith, as we have seen, had had before 1859 an intuitive apprehension of evolution, though not of natural selection; therefore, is i t not l i k e l y that he, l i k e 2 his mentor Goethe, saw in the theory merely a verification of his intuition? Mr. Stevenson is also in 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, Kri s t e l l e r and Randall, translators, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1945, p.82 - "Goethe recognized no sharp boundary between intuition and theory." 109 to Darwin's theory during t h i s period between Darwin's two publications, there i s demonstrable evidence.in h i s poetry of a cautious a s s i m i l a t i o n of these l a t e s t ideas of evolution into the poet's creed. Darwinism placed Meredith i n closer contact with the r e a l ; but i t did not a l t e r his Goethian b e l i e f i n the necessity for a consistent balance of the r e a l and i d e a l worlds. Hence during the 1860's the poet was c r i t i c a l of both groups of extremists that resulted from the" c o n f l i c t over Dar-winian evolution, namely, the materialists} who ignored s p i r i t , and the r e l i g i o u s reactionaries, who postulated personal immor-t a l i t y and miracles 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. In opposition to m a t e r i a l i s t i c tenets he advanced "his doctrine of communion with nature and reliance on her power to heal and sustain". And he preached the r e a l i s t i c acceptance of suffering and of nature's stern laws to those who would take the drugs offered by the priesthood: Could France accept the fables of her p r i e s t s , Who blest her banners i n t h i s game of beasts, And now bid hope that heaven w i l l intercede To v i o l a t e i t s laws i n her sore need, She would fi n d comfort i n t h e i r opiates: Mother of Reason.1 can she cheat the Fates? 4 Meredith evidently 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 "self-preservation" and the 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 immortality and divine 1 See London by Lamplight, I, pp.68-72 and the poem a t t -ributed to Diaper Sandoe (Richard Feverel, pp.80-81) for Mere-dith's condemnation of mammon and materialism. 2 See also Martin's Puzzle, I, pp.261-2 for Meredith's condemnation of the "Tea-dootrine" 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 definite as Spencer's or Huxley's. To those Victorians who insisted on retaining a belief in the existence of God Meredith repeated his earlier advice (which now happened to agree in part with Darwin's assumptions): i f there i s any God, you may find 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 gif t s must be, Reverenced the truth she teaches, Ere a man may hope that he Ever can attain 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 in 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 lived close to her. Nature, God, and man were for Meredith a l l parts of an essential unity. A stronger emphasis on "Earth" One influence of Darwinism is discernible in the poet's firm affirmation of his earlier belief that the real 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 Spirit of Earth in Autumn, I, p.259. 2 "Truth and Poetry", Vol.1, p.30 - "The God who stands in immediate connection with nature, and owns and loves i t as his work, seemed to him the proper God." 3 cf. Goethe (Eckermann, Conversations, p.391) - The Deity " i s Reason, is 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 find out where the problem applies, and then to restrain himself within the limits of the comprehensible." (Eckermann, Conversations, p.120.) I l l being put into e f f e c t . Hence one finds that i n the poems w r i t -ten a f t e r 1859 the poet stresses more strongly than before his f a i t h i n earthly nature. E a r t h 1 takes over the v i t a l r ole of the "Great Mother" who achieves her own growth through the alternate l i f e and death of her children: Earth, the mother of a l l , Moves on her stedfast way, Gathering, f l i n g i n g , sowing. Mortals, we l i v e i n her day, She i n her children i s growing. 2 And, l e s t one might think her cruel i n her self-existence, Meredith reminds him that man's only 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 beneficent, Mother Earth: There i s a curtain o'er us. For once, good souls, we'll not pretend To be aught better than her who bore us, And i s our only v i s i b l e f r i e n d . Hark to her laughter.* who laughs l i k e this x, Can she be dead or rooted i n pain? She has been s l a i n by the narrow brain, But f o r us who love her she l i v e s again. Can she die? 0, take her 1 kiss.' 3 Therefore, man should look not above, but to Earth's stern law of development fo r confirmation of nature's love and s p i r i t : I know that since the hour of b i r t h , Rooted i n earth, I have looked above, In joy and i n g r i e f , With eyes of b e l i e f , For love. A mother trains us so. But the love I saw was a f i t f u l thing; I looked on the sun That clouds or i s blinding aglow: And the love around had more of wing Than substance, and of s p i r i t none. 1 Meredith's association with Swinburne i n the 1860's • also would have.influenced Meredith-in this s h i f t from nature to Earth. 2 Ode To The S p i r i t of Earth i n Autumn, I, p.259. 3 Ode To The S p i r i t of Earth i n Autumn, I, pp.256-7. US Then looked I on the green earth we are rooted in, Whereof we grow, And nothing of love i t said, But gave me warnings of sin, And lessons of patience let 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 is to be seen and attained through the exercise of fortitude in man's struggle to advance. Here is a note of Darwinism. Yet Meredith accepts this struggle calmly. Earth, the lasting, the v i t a l , knows no loss or des-2 olation; and man, by attributing cruelty to her whose law of l i f e and death i s truly a law of sacrifice and love, becomes a creature of hopes and fears who cannot enjoy l i f e . Meredith, who feels that no justification i s necessary for man'3 exis-tence, is in favour of livi n g l i f e to the f u l l : Life thoroughly lived i s a fact in the brain, While eyes are l e f t for seeing. 3 Look to Earth's other creatures i f you would live a happy l i f e , advises Meredith; observe the animals who rejoice in the good things of l i f e , avoid pain as best they can, and hunger not for certainties: Sweet as Eden is the a i r , And Eden-sweet the ray. No Paradise is 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 In The Woods, Vol. 27 (Memorial Edition)pp.275-76. 2 Ode To The Spirit of Earth in Autumn, I, pp.259-60. 3 Ode To The S p i r i t of Earth In Autumn, I, p.259. 113 Here a l l things say 'We know not,'"even as I. 'We brood, we,strive to.sky, We gaze upon decay, We wot of l i f e through death. We are patient: what i s dumb We question not, nor ask The hidden to unmask, The distant to draw near.' And t h i s the woodland s a i t h : 'I know not hope nor fear: I take whate'er s h a l l come; I raise my head to a l l things f a i r , From f o u l I turn away.' Sweet as Eden i s the a i r , And Eden-sweet the ray. 1 This counsel appears at f i r s t glance to be i d e n t i c a l with the quantitative pleasure-pain 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 implied i n the phrase, "we s t r i v e to sky". Mere Benthamism requires l i t t l e f o r t i t u d e , Meredith would say; i t demands only a recognition of the law of change. What makes courage necessary i s the r e a l i z a t i o n that struggle i s part of nature's law. Because Meredith feels that morally and p h y s i c a l l y man i s impelled to seek something higher than himself, he believes that cheerful struggle i s the f i n e s t manifestation of the free w i l l - t h a t i s nature's chief g i f t to man. I f man f r e e l y accepts the necessity of contention, then he has a chance f o r happiness. But i f he ignores nature's imperative, he w i l l be miserable. Two f a c t s , then, must man acknowledge: f i r s t , the law of change, the law of l i f e and death so well exemplified by the pine tree q u i e t l y dropping i t s n o n - f e r t i l i z e d seed, and second, the struggle for im-provement, symbolized for Meredith by the turbulent wind above 1 In The Woods. Vol . 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 flooring and over the lines 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 in a race, As the clouds the clouds chase: And we go, And we drop like the fruits of the tree, Even we, Even so. 2 It i s almost a superhuman task for man looking at the present to admit that his immediate reward for carrying on the struggle is death. Yet Meredith prays to nature for the courage to accept this fact and to l i v e , exempt from Time as nature is,- in the joyous moment that reveals to him the bright future of the race: Great Mother Nature! teach me, like 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 faith that forward sets But feeds the liv i n g f i r e , Faith that never frets For vagueness in the form. 1 cf. 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 in us. Unasked and unwarned we are caught up by her into the whirl of her dance. She carries us along until we are tired and drop from her arms - she herself is tir e l e s s " . Meredith's idea has more of a Darwinian tinge than has Goethe's; yet the parallel i s obvious. 2 In The Woods (later Dirge in Woods), Vol. 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 desire? Teach me to f e e l myself the tree, And not the withered l e a f . Fixed am I and await the dark to-be J. 1 A developing e t h i c a l theory based on evolution I t w i l l be remembered'that Meredith, during his early l i f e , gave the accolade of the " f i t t e s t " to the lover because of the a l t r u i s t i c tendencies shown by t h i s chosen creature of nature. But recognition of the s c i e n t i f i c fact of struggle and Meredith's own disastrous marriage indicated to the poet the need f o r a readjustment of his e t h i c a l values and for 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 before that a practicable morality had to be based both on the reason evolved from man's fight f o r betterment and on the i n s t i n c t s that formed the closest l i n k between man and 2 nature. Like Goethe, he now conceived the f i t t e s t to be those men who developed a l l sides of their natures; the healthy competition to which such men were subject gave- them more chance of achieving the balance of reason and i n s t i n c t than an easy 3 l i f e did. Meredith, of course, r e a l i z e d that pain and su f f e r i n g 1 Ode To The S p i r i t of Earth i n Autumn, I, p.258. 2 c f . Goethe (Eckermann, Conversations, p.59), - " i t i s i n c o n f l i c t with natures opposed to his own that a man must c o l l e c t his strength to f i g h t his way tlarough; and thus a l l a l l our d i f f e r e n t sides are brought out and developed so that we soon f e e l ourselves a match f o r every foe." 3 Meredith believes that the hard l i f e of the gipsy children i s more " f r u i t f u l " than i s that of the indolent children of wealthy parents - see The Orchard and the Heath, I I , p.90-91. often resulted from the struggle of l i f e . The suff e r i n g of 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 of nature's plan was f o r Meredith the only acceptable 1 answer to t h i s problem. But the poet could explain the more general kind of suffering i n a way consistent with reason. Nature's law of res u l t s and consequences could account for most of the tragedy i n l i f e : Meredith t e l l s us i n his poem, Modern Love, that, i f man cannot conform to nature, then he must "take £ the hap of a l l {his} deeds";as f a r as nature i s concerned, the struggle i s good; man's unwise action, not any cruelty i n nature, causes pain. It i s with the i m p l i c i t acceptance of nature's law that Meredith discusses man's morality. And,in accordance with Darwin's suggestion that man's i n t e l l e c t i s the l a t e s t result of evolution, Meredith now casts a disparaging look upon the passions. C e r t a i n l y he would not have the sensual part of man destroyed: Oh, Raphael! when men the Fiend do f i g h t , They conquer not upon such easy terras. Half-serpent i n the struggle grow these worms. And does he grow half human, a l l i s r i g h t . 4 But he wants man to be aware of the es s e n t i a l falseness and the danger of passion per se: 1 see Martin's Puzzle, I, p.£64. £ Modern Love, I, p.£00. 3 This changed outlook may have had more to do with his broken marriage than with Darwinism. Nevertheless, the para-l l e l with Darwin i s there. 4 Modern Love, I, p.213. 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! Passions spin the p l o t ! We are betrayed by.what i s fal s e within. , 1 For t h e . s e l f i s h i n s t i n c t of passion always threatens to develop into sentimentalism, and sentimentalism i s a s i n , for i t opp-2 3 oses nature. In words that bring to mind Tennyson's Maud Meredith attacks the s e n t i m e n t a l i s t 4 for letting/the "scaly dragon of s e l f " frighten him away from the r e a l i t y of nature's struggle: Hawk or shrike has done t h i s deed Of downy feathers, a. cruel sight. Sweet sentimentalist, intercede With Providence: 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 allow The innocent to be torn, the strong To tower and govern - witness how! 5 In reaction against the selfishness of the passions and of sentimentalism Meredith c a l l s for the antidote mind, for he sees that man's progress must be made through the "march of mind". But mere brain power i s not enough for Meredith. What he wants i s "the strenuous mind i n •quest" an active mind c l o s e l y 1 Modern Love, I, p.223. 2 c f . Meredith's l e t t e r to the Reverend Jessopp (Letters p.165) - "I'm a l i t t l e sick of Tennysonian green tea. I don't,think Byron wholesome - exactly, but a drop or so - Eh? And,he doesn"!t give limp, l a c k a d a i s i c a l fishermen, and pander to the depraved sentimentalism of our drawing rooms." 3 c f . Chapter 3, p . 7 7 -4 c f . Goethe (Oxenford, "Annals", Vol.11, p.195) -Goethe states that he had i n him a "cross-grained humour... to hoot everything sentimental, and ha l f - d e s p a i r i n g l y to cleave to inevitable r e a l i t y " . 5. In The Woods, Vol. 27, p.276. 6 Lines To A Friend V i s i t i n g America, I I , p.4. 118 linked with a strong body. Too much brain i s unacceptable; high philosophy i s not "ordered for the world's i n c r e a s e " 1 Hence Meredith's strong men, the f i t t e s t , are men with powerful minds and bodies who, on a fulcrum of altruism, balance the teetering senses (the d r i v i n g force of progress) with the reason (the d r i v e r ) . An i n t e r e s t i n g short, poem that stresses the d e s i r a b i l i t y of t h i s mean i n almost Darwinian terminology i s To J.M., written i n 1867. Let Fate or I n s u f f i c i e n c y provide Mean ends for 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 pride. Our f a i t h i s ours and comes not on a t i d e : And whether Earth's great o f f s p r i n g , by decree, Must rot i f they abjure rapacity, Not argument but e f f o r t s h a l l decide. 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 thy s t e e l . fhou, f i g h t i n g for poor humankind, w i l t f e e l The strength of Roland i n thy wrist to hew A chasm sheer into the b a r r i e r rock, And bring the army of the f a i t h f u l through. 2 That Meredith has developed a strong f a i t h i n t h i s workable compromise i s evident from the general tone of the l e t t e r s written i n this period: Hitherto human Nature has marched through the c o n f l i c t of extremes. With the general growth of reason, i t w i l l be possible to choose a path mid-way. 3 True strength i s thus not power but balance, and i t may be won only through communion with nature. Love of woman, says a d i s i l l u s i o n e d Meredith, seems to achieve a synthesis between the senses and the mind, but such love i s not always trustworthy. 1 Modern Love, I, p.211. 2 To J. M., I I , . p . l . 3 L e t t e r s , I, p.67. 119 A complete acceptance and love of nature is a surer road to 1 strength: Lo, Strength i s of the plain root-Virtues born: Strength shall ye gain by service, prove in scorn, Train by endurance, by devotion shape.-Strength is not won by miracle or rape. It is the offspring of the modest years, The g i f t of sire 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 selfless love is for Meredith the balance that produces altruism. A new gospel of energy founded on calm, reasoned acceptance Meredith's faith in Earth i n this second period thus was founded upon a closer view of r e a l i t y than was that of his early years, for he had added a Darwinian concept of struggle to his basic, joyful acceptance of nature. This addition to or cl a r i f i c a t i o n of his earlier 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 fortitude and not just upon a naturally happy disposition. Hence during these years from 1859 to 1871 he recommended, both a joyful delight in the goodness of l i f e and an active obedience of nature's law of development through contention: Live with the world. Wo cloister. No languor. • Play your part. F i l l the day. Ponder well and lo i t e r not. Let laughter brace you. Exist i n 1 see Modern Love, I, p.210. 2 Prance, III, p.:145. 120 everyday communion with Nature. Nature bids you take a l l , only.be sure you learn how to do without. 2 A c t i v i t y i s the keynote of thi s gospel of energy. L i f e i s transient, Meredith t e l l s us, because transience i s part of nature's law. Therefore, one should l i v e strenuously and for the moment. I t i s f o o l i s h sentimentality to l i v e i n a golden past, as some lovers do: Yet seek they with Time's laughing things 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 thi s token, i s th e i r youth. 3 One should not barter present joy for the hopes and fears inspired by the spectre of Time that sooner or l a t e r d i s i l l -usions the sentimentalists. Yet Meredith, personally r e j o i c i n g only i n the moment, does have hope for the future of the human race. I f man, l i v i n g f u l l y , w i l l take strength from the struggle and then act i n a t r u l y moral manner, he w i l l , Meredith f e e l s c e r t a i n , ensure the strength of his progeny. For, i n l i v i n g i n t h i s active, righteous way, man i s following nature: You teach me a fin e lesson, my old boy.' I've looked on my superiors f o r too long, And small has been my p r o f i t as my joy. You've done the r i g h t while I've denounced the wrong. Prosper me later.' 4 1 cf. Goethe on nature (Eckermann, Conversations, p.294) -"The man incapable of appreciating her she despises; and only to the apt, the pure, and the true does she resign h e r s e l f , and reveal her secrets." This idea of nature resigning h e r s e l f to man i s a note which was not i n Meredith's early poetry and which he probably took from Goethe when he began to formulate his idea of e t h i c a l evolution. 2 Sencourt., Meredith, p. 105 (quoted from Lord Morley's Reminiscences). . 3 Time and Sentiment, I I , p.11. 4 The Old Ch 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 ethical concerns: li v i n g a well-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 in 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 in our dust And a g i f t in our breath. 1 One may observe that Meredith's idea of nature of this period differed from that of the f i r s t period only in the matter of man's ethical progress through struggle. Because Swinburne during the 1860's had awakened in Meredith an enthusiasm not just 2 for Earth but for progress and humanity, he doubtless saw a ne-cessity for defining the " f i t t e s t " in terms consistent with Darwinism. Yet .it is significant that Meredith, in laying new stress on ethics, did not greatly alter his fundamental p h i l -osophy of nature. Nor did he at this time publish a complete expression of the doctrine of ethical evolution that formed the basis of his later philosophy. Meredith obviously was not attempting to found a new concept of nature on Darwinism; he was trying merely to ascertain whether or not the scientist'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 in this second period, but the 1 In The Woods , Vol.. 27,. p.278. 2 Sassoon, Meredith, p.87. result of the integration was not to appear in Meredith's poetry until after the publication of The Descent of Man. Meredith's mature concept of nature (Ethical Evolution! J 1 Although, as William Chislett Informs us, Meredith adopted a scientific and p o s i t i v i s t i c attitude toward nature, he was, unlike the typical Victorian, no amateur scientist. It is 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 scientific treatise 2 even in popularized form was usually unintelligible to him. It i s f a i r to assume, therefore, that Meredith received the Darwinian ideas of evolution only after 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 factual presentation in such books as On The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man; for a broad view of knowledge was com-3 patible with his philosophy. Meredith, as is evident from his characterization of Sir Willoughby Patterne as a devotee of 4 science, did not trust the materialistic side of science, for be he saw in i t a supporter of egotism. Science had to/humanized, 1 Wm. Ghislett, G-eorge Meredith, a Study and an Appraisal, Boston, Richard G. Badger, 1925, p.213. 2 Letters,, pp.348-9. 3 cf. Goethe (Eckermann, Gonversations, p.66)- "As soon as anybody belongs to a certain narrow creed in science, every unprejudiced and true perception is gone." 4 see The Egoist, I, p.26 (Memorial Edition). 123 that i s , i t had to be "given moral, ethical and philosophical interpretation" 1 before i t possessed any value for Meredith. Hence one finds in Meredith's writings very few refer-ences to the physical evolution of the animals and man. In The Egoist the phrases "survival of the f i t t e s t " and "natural 2 • -selection" are used in passing; and in The Woods of Westermain appears a general idea of evolution from "mud to mind": where old-eyed oxen chew Speculation with the cud, Read their pool of vision 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 for winging tons. 3 But, though Meredith apparently accepts Darwinism4 because i.t gives support to his earlier beliefs in change and progress, mind and what is beyond mind are to him more important than-. the preceding evolutionary stages. For mind, mirroring soul, shows man, 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 strives toward the ethical Good: Numbers in council, awake To love me more than things of my. lap, Love me; and to let the types break, Men be grass, rocks, rivers, a l l flow; 1 E. Arthur Robinson, "Meredith's Literary Theory and Science" (pp.857-868), PMLA, Vol.53, 1938, p.863. 2 The Egoist; .1, p.45 (Memorial Edition) and II, pp.75-6. 3 The Woods of Westermain, II, 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 far as the animal world was concerned. A l l save the dream sink a l i k e : To the source of my v i t a l i n sap: Their b a t t l e , t h e i r l o s s , t h e i r ache, For my pledge of v i t a l i t y know. The dream i s the thought i n the ghost; The thought sent f l y i n g for food; Eyeless, but sprung of an aim Supernal of Reason, to f i n d The great Over-Reason we name Beneficence: mind seeking mind. Dream of the blossom of Good... 1 Here, then are the assumptions (consistent with his ideas of the e a r l i e r periods) upon which Meredith bases his b e l i e f i n g an e t h i c a l evolution: f i r s t , an acceptance of a benevolent Earth, and second, a f a i t h i n an ethic corresponding with na-ture's true morality that i s evolving i n man through present struggle and the dream of a future Good. Man, Meredith asserts must see benevolence i n nature or he can never evolve e t h i c a l l y Count Nature d e v i l i s h , and accept f o r doom The chasm between our passions and our wits! 3 This e t h i c a l progress i s for Meredith not a re s u l t of nature's necessity but of man's free w i l l . By assuming that man has free w i l l , Meredith i s able p a r t l y to reconcile tragic l i f e and the p o s s i b i l i t y of retrogression i n man's development with nature's es s e n t i a l perfection. For t h i s hypothesis gives man the choice to progress i n harmony with nature and her law of change or to su f f e r and perish through opposition to her. 1 A F a i t h on T r i a l , I I , pp.258-59. 2 Meredith was not at one with Thomas Huxley i n assum-ing benevolence i n nature, for Huxley was convinced that "the apparent paradox that e t h i c a l nature, while born of cosmic nature, i s necessarily at enmity with i t s parent... i s a truth". (Thomas Huxley, Evolution and Ethics and Other  Essays, London, Macmillan 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 Contentious with"the elements, whose dower F i r s t sprang him; f o r swift vultures to devour I f he d e s i s t s . His breath of instant t h i r s t Is warning of a creature matched with s t r i f e , To meet i t as a bride, or l e t f a l l l i f e On l i f e ' s accursed. 1 Yet i n spite of his acknowledgment of possible r e t r o -gression and of nature's consequent scorn of. man Meredith has f a i t h i n man's a b i l i t y to evolve. For, l i k e Goethe, he believes that morality i s not merely a u t i l i t a r i a n balance, but an inner necessity that urges nature's highest creature to a t t a i n the 2 a l t r u i s t i c i d e a l . Though he pictures man's path to progress as 3 a zigzag course made by a drunkard, Meredith has confidence i n a general forward movement because he i s of the firm opinion that man's free w i l l i s lighted by an inner moral beacon which burns more and more b r i g h t l y with each step of man's advance: 'Tis that i n each recovery he preserves, Between his upper and his nether wit, Sense of his march ahead, more b r i g h t l y l i t ; He less the shaken thing of l u s t s and nerves; With such a grasp upon his brute as t e l l s Of wisdom from that v i l e relapsing spun. A Sun goes down i n wasted f i r e , a Sun Resplendent springs, to f a i t h refreshed compels. 4 Meredith i s not, however, s a t i s f i e d with man's t r i a l -and-error movement forward, for t h i s method assures both an unbalanced present existence for i n d i v i d u a l man and constant misery for the stumbling mass of mankind. Because the poet feels that t h i s scheme of things i s unsatisfactory, he conceives 1 Earth and Man. I I , p.92. 2 Schweitzer, Goethe. p.79. 3 The World's Advance. I I , p.17. 4 The Test of Manhood. I l l , p.207. 126 i t to be his duty to give some direction to man's ethical pro-gress. First realize, 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 2 , - V evolutionary Triad in order to bring the third ("spirit") into existence. This is the ethical lyre upon the strings of which Meredith plays endlessly. Let us try to catch the burden of his melody and to see how i t applies to his concept of nature. The lowest of the three rungs on his evolutionary ladder is "blood", at the nethermost * end of which is egotism. Egotism represents for Meredith the primitive force (which we a l l have in us) of mere self-preservation, the force that 3 resists nature's law of change and enslaves man in bonds of selfishness. As Mrs. Sturge Henderson phrases i t : "Egotism is to Meredith what Original Sin 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 fasting. Meredith finds egotism inimical to moral progress, for he sees that anything built on this s e l f i s h 5 foundation perishes, as did Attila's "Empire built of scorn". 1 II .7 a Gent Ans, III, p.260. 2 Goethe probably had some influence on Meredith's con-ception 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 circle 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  Ethics, Vol.16, October, 1905-July, 1906, p.349. 5 The Nuptials of A t t i l a , II, p.179. Therefore, he recommends that man purge himself of this lowest element of self that obscures the view of nature's Eden: But that the senses s t i l l Usurp the station of their issue mind, He would have burst the chrysalis of the blind: As yet he w i l l ; As yet he w i l l , she prays, Yet w i l l when his distempered devil of Self;-The glutton for her f r u i t s , the wily e l f In shifting rays;-That captain of the scorned; The coyeter of l i f e in soul and shell, The fratricide, the thief, the i n f i d e l , The hoofed and horned;-He singularly 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 shall the horrid p a l l Be l i f t e d ... 1 But the poet does not suggest that self be stricken from man's being because of i t s egotistical quality; for out of self 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 is "forge ... curbs" for the "scaly '2 Dragon-fowl" of self, 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" is not egotism but sen-3 sation, nature's milk for man. If he utilizes this strong sensuous link with a l l nature, then man w i l l , Meredith assures •him, achieve the humility that shall r i d him of undesirable egotism: 1 Earth and Man, II, pp.97-8. 2 The Woods of Westermain, II, pp.39-40. 3 Hence "blood" for Meredith.is essentially instinct, which, though i t depends upon the actions of self, has no element of egotism in 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 , Perilous even here while few Roam the arched greenwood with you. l Yet the acceptance of thi s blood-brotherhood represents only the f i r s t step i n the d i r e c t i o n of e t h i c a l evolution. Evolutionary progress for Meredith, as fo r Darwin, must involve struggle. For the poet, however, the f i g h t i s not to be waged against nature or her creatures. He believes", rather, that the main struggle takes place i n each i n d i v i d u a l man; the struggle i s not one for existence, but one to maintain a pre-sent e t h i c a l mean that w i l l insure an even progress into the future. Meredith admits that nature does give man a kick as 2 well as a k i s s . Yet he f e e l s that t h i s would be only a gentle war between nature and man i f man but re a l i z e d that his and nature's r e a l enemy i s s e l f . I f man would accept nature's law and would struggle to achieve a moral balance, then suffering need not be the necessary prologue to the growth of mind and s p i r i t that i t has been i n the past: 'Tis not i n men to recognize the need Before they clash i n hosts, i n hosts they bleed. Then may sharp su f f e r i n g t h e i r nature grind; Of rabble passions grow the c h i e f t a i n mind. 4 This struggle for balance, even for those who see nature r i g h t l y , i s not an easy f i g h t . In f a c t , i t requires great mental fo r t i t u d e to steer the sensitive s e l f , which i s so e a s i l y overwhelmed by the temptations of pleasure and the 1 The Woods of Westermain, I I , p.39. 2 A Stave of Roving Tim, I I , p. 4; 3 The Gaging of Ares, II,p.172. 4 Foresight and Patience, I I I , p.96. pangs of pain, 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 hold them fast conjoined within him s t i l l ; Submissive to his w i l l Along the road of l i f e . ' 1 Nevertheless, t h i s important battle of l i f e , i f i t i s c a r r i e d 2 on i n close contact with humanity, i s e s s e n t i a l l y good and 3 sweet. For i t i s bringing mankind ever closer to nature and 4 her v i t a l s p i r i t through the evolution of brain and more brain: Contention i s the v i t a l force, Whence pluck they brain, her prize of g i f t s , Sky of the senses! on which height, Not disconnected, yet released, They see how s p i r i t comes to l i g h t , Through conquest of the inner beast, Which Measure tames to movement sane, In harmony with what i s f a i r . 5 And brain, Meredith f e e l s , i s ample return for the h i t t e r struggle that produces i t , for brain mirrors Earth's s p i r i t and gives voice to nature: Never i s Earth misread by brain: That i s the welling of her, there The mirror: with one step beyond, For likewise i s i t voice; 6 7 Moreover, strong brain i s "the s t a t i o n for the f l i g h t of soul"; through i t s strength i t brings about a balance of blood and 1 The Test of Manhood, I I I , p.201. 2 Meredith lays great stress on the "numbers", "Reality's flower" (A F a i t h On T r i a l , p.253). 3 see The Day of The Daughter of Hades, I I , p.60. 4 "Brain" i s for Meredith man's reason. It i s the i n t e l l i g e n c e i n action, not just the physical organism. 5 Hard Weather, I I , p.213. 6 Ibid., p.213. 7 Ibid., p.214. 130 brain which gives i t s possessor a v i s i o n of future s p i r i t , the a l t r u i s t i c i d e a l : But when the mind, the cherishable mind, The multitude's grave shepherd, took f u l l f l i g h t , Himself as mirror raised among his kind He saw, and f i r s t of brotherhood had sight? Knew that his force to f l y , h is w i l l to see, His heart enlarged beyond i t s ribbed domain,• Had come of many a grip i n mastery; Which held conjoined the h o s t i l e r i v a l twain, And of his bosom made him l o r d , to keep The s t a r r y roof of his unruffled frame Awake to earth, to heaven, and plumb the deep • Below, above, aye with a w i s t f u l aim. 1 Brain, i n fa c t , makes Earth both a debtor to man and, i f he 2 obeys her laws, a servant to him. Earth and man, thus mutually dependent upon one another, are, Meredith opines, not enemies but lovers: Breath which i s the s p i r i t ' s bath In the old Beginnings f i n d , 'And endow them with a mind, Seed for seedling, swathe f o r swathe, That gives Nature to us, thi s Give we her, and so we k i s s . 3 It i s apparent, then, that Meredith's "doctrine of the mean" involves joyous acceptance of nature's law as well as 4 calm recognition of man's struggle. His f i t t e s t , those who possess strong brain, are therefore not just u t i l i t a r i a n s who qua n t i t a t i v e l y balance pleasure and pain for the "greatest good of the greatest number"; t h e i r way of l i f e embodies a 1 The Test of Manhood, I I I , p.203. 2 Ibid., p.204. 3 Nature and L i f e , I I , p.239. 4 This "balance" i s s i m i l a r to that achieved by Goethe af t e r reading Spinoza. Goethe, r e l a t i n g how he added Spinoza's disinterested calmness to his own active enthusiasm says: "mind and- heart, understanding and sense, sought each other with an eager a f f i n i t y binding together the most di f f e r e n t natures" (Goethe, "Truth and Poetry", Vo l . I I , p.26). 131 more comprehensive mean. Primarily, Meredith's chosen few have a s e l f l e s s love of both nature and man and of the labour 1 they must do. Love for them i s "the greatest exemplar of the 2 s p i r i t u a l value of earthly things". Secondly, they f e e l that they are duty bound to mix with the "numbers" and to help the weak, not just because benevolence i s pleasurable but because only through such altruism s h a l l the i n d i v i d u a l (and hence the race) evolve to s p i r i t . I f that thou hast the g i f t of strength, then know Thy part i s to u p l i f t the trodden low; Else i n the giant's grasp u n t i l the" end A hopeless wrestler s h a l l thy 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 "high strenuousness", not i n sensuality, even i f a preponderance of pleasure i s the 5 immediate r e s u l t of the l a t t e r course. Fourthly, they believe that the "right reason" they possess requires of them cheerful patience and foresight rather than a purely s c i e n t i f i c outlook 6 that leads to despair. And l a s t l y , they, l i k e Meredith, accept death as being good for the progress of the race, 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 i s 7 usually accused of being a Wordsworthian creation of Meredith's, i s , I believe, a good representative of t h i s e l i t e group, for he i s aware of s p i r i t through the music of "measure" (the v i t a l 1 Carlyle's work doctrine no doubt had some influence on Meredith's b e l i e f i n incessant a c t i v i t y . 2 Trevelyan, The Poetry and Philosophy of George Meredith, p.85. 3 The Burden of Strength. I l l , p.210. 4 Sencourt, Meredith, p.286. 5 Meredith was strongly i n favour of punishing Oscar Wilde f o r his sensuality. (Sencourt, Meredith, p.286). 6 Foresight and Patience, I I I , p.92. 7 see Sassoon, Meredith, pp.166-67. • balance again); he loves nature and man; he recognizes nature's law; and he wishes to help man i n his struggle for present •happiness and future progress} It i s from the a c t i v i t y of such men that Meredith de-r i v e s his 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 . For he sees i n t h e i r actions v i s i b l e proof that only through the proper exercise of a l l his f a c u l t i e s can man now perceive and l a t e r r e a l i z e the l i f e of the s p i r i t : I have written always with the perception that there i s no l i f e but of the s p i r i t ; that the concrete i s r e a l l y the shadowy; yet that 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 unfolding of the creature, not i n the nipping of his passions. An outrage to Nature helps to extinguish his 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 healthy exercise 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 by those who have the "rapture of the forward view", the i n t u i t i o n to see altruism a r i s i n g from what at present merely appears to be a struggle for self-preservation, i s the soul of l i v i n g nature. I t i s 3 "God, the known"; i t i s the v i t a l , permanent l i f e , the es s e n t i a l unity of nature that w i l l be part of man's r e a l l i f e when he has perfected through struggle the balance of his f a c u l t i e s . And i t i s achievable on Earth, not i n any unknown realm beyond: grasp Very 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: 4 1 see Melampus, I I , p.79ff. 2 Letters, I I , p.409. 3 The Test of Manhood, I I I , p.204. 4 A F a i t h on T r i a l , I I , p.255. 133 But this idea of s p i r i t i s s t i l l rather vague. Therefore, one must turn for further enlightenment to a poem of Meredith's that attempts to explain his conception of s p i r i t i n a more empirical way. That poem i s A Fai t h on T r i a l . In the opening stanzas Meredith i s describing how his wife's impending death has been a great blow to his philosophy. Because there i s no w i l l to f i g h t l e f t i n him, he cannot at f i r s t conceive of s p i r i t i n a nature that seems so c r u e l . He i s a slave of egotism: I champed the sensations that make Of a r u f f l e d philosophy rags. For them was no meaning too blunt, Nor aspect too cutting of s t e e l . This Earth of the be a u t i f u l breasts, Shining up i n a l l colours aflame, To them had a visage of hags: 1 But suddenly a revelation s t r i k e s despair from the poet's mind and restores to him his sensuous l i n k with nature. He sees the wild-cherry tree, a s p i r i t u a l symbol of his and Marie's love and a symbol also of nature's law of alternating l i f e and death: I knew i t : with her my own Had hailed i t pure of the pure; Out beacon yearly: • • • I gazed, unaware How a shaft of the blossoming tree Was shot from the yew-wood's core. I stood to the touch of a key Turned i n a fast-shut door. 2 After t h i s awakening the poet watches some children innocently delighting i n sensuous pleasures. This simple sacrament, f o l l -owing upon that represented by the wild cherry, renews his f a i t h i n nature's beneficence and unity, and he i s able to catch once 1 A F a i t h on T r i a l , I I , p.246. 2 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 mist, mere breath, Breath on a buckler of s t e e l . 1 But, more important, he gains from t h i s insight fresh f a i t h i n the goodness of the e t h i c a l struggle, i n the present strength of reason, and i n the future 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 of despair to destroy Meredith's philosophy of nature, for even g r i e f inspires i n him an i n t u i t i v e b e l i e f that e t e r n i t y i s access-i b l e i n the r e a l i t y of the creative moment. That i s , the experience described i n th i s poem shows that for Meredith eter n i t y (or immortality) exists i n a timeless concatenation of f e r t i l e , balanced moments. Continuous labour and struggle leading up to these instants are, of course, seen as c o n t r i -butors to immortality. But the "spot of time" r e s u l t i n g from g r i e f or struggle represents the nearest approach to nature and to e t h i c a l evolution i n harmony with nature, for such moments are both the clearest mirrors of s p i r i t and the highest points on the graph of evolution toward s p i r i t . Personal immortality, Meredith f e e l s , i s unimportant i n the l i g h t and. joy of the 2 i n t u i t i v e moment when "Time i s both father and son". For the poet believes that i f one l i v e s f u l l y i n the inspired instant 2 that embraces a l l time, i n the "idea" that i s immortal s p i r i t , 4 then he i s l i v i n g i n his offspring as nature does. 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 creative 1 A F a i t h on T r i a l , p.251. 2 The Empty Purse, I I I , p.48. 3 Lette r s , I I , pp.361-2. 4 Earth and Man, I I , p.98. 135 moment to the next, constitutes 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 love of Earth they had: l o , these, Like beams that throw the path on tossing seas, Can bid us f e e l we keep them i n the ghost, Partakers of a s t r i f e they joyed to share. 1 Nevertheless, labour done with the good of the future race i n 2 mind also achieves for man an immortality of sorts. This immor-t a l i t y consists i n the effect of man's b e n e f i c i a l actions upon his offspring: Enough i f we have winked to sun, Have sped the plough a season; There i s a soul f o r labour done, Endureth fixed as reason. 3 Because not a l l men can perceive the importance of the moment, Meredith allows the plodders, the s t r i v e r s who. conform as best they can to nature's law, a subordinate place i n the future oneness of s p i r i t i n nature and man. But to those who neither struggle nor further the course of e t h i c a l evolution, he pro-mises no immortality'of any s o r t . Nature i n Meredith: Natural r e l i g i o n Meredith's natural r e l i g i o n i s based upon his f a i t h i n the timeless 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 evolution. This b e l i e f allows him to recognize present struggle and suffering as necessary r e a l i t i e s that lead to the i d e a l . He admits that 1 To A Friend Lost, I I I , p.265. 2 c f . G-oethe (Eckermann, Conversations, p. 287) - "To me the eternal existence of my soul i s proved from my idea of a c t i v i t y ; i f I work on incessantly t i l l my death, nature i s bound to give me another form of existence when the present one can no longer sustain my s p i r i t . " 3 The question Whither, I I , p.236. acceptance of these hard conditions 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 desirable end they 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 quailed with fears, Or shrunk with horrors, sure reward We have whom knowledge crowns; Who see i n mould the rose unfold, The soul through blood and tears. 1 Therefore, Meredith accepts and trusts nature, not i n spite of, but because of the struggle man has to carry on within himself. This struggle, when i t i s considered along with nature's sane order and transient beauty, even inspires i n the poet a f e e l i n g of love and f i l i a l a f f e c t i o n for nature. Though to others nature might seem a slayer, Meredith can love her and endure the present because of the -bright future. For love we Earth, then serve we a l l ; Her mystic secret then i s ours. We f a l l , or view our treasures f a l l , Unclouded as beholds her flowers Earth, from a night of f r o s t y wreck, Enrobed i n morning's mounted f i r e , When lowly, with a broken neck, The crocus lays her cheek to mire. 2 Man's struggle to achieve the mean i s thus strong proof for the poet of the beneficence behind nature's law of necessity, for he believes that this s t r i f e w i l l gradually unfold for man a v i s i o n of Earth as the "mother of truth", as the Relentless quencher of l i e s ; E ternal i n thought; discerned In thought mid-ferry between The L i f e and the Death, which are one, As our breath i n or out joy or teen. 3 1 Outer and Inner, I I , p.238. 2 Thrush i n February, I I , p.225. 3 A Fa i t h on T r i a l , I I , p.255. In other words, though Meredith admits that nature's law i s 1 2 "unalterable" and severe, he can see her es s e n t i a l s p i r i t behind the "stern exact": The s p i r i t served by her i s seen Through Law; perusing love w i l l show. 3 And, seeing s p i r i t behind outer law, Meredith can make of l i f e and death an act of nature's love: Love took my hand when hidden stood the sun To f l i n g his robe on shoulder-heights of snow. Then said: There l i e they, L i f e and Death i n one. VJhichever i s , the other i s , but know, It i s thy craving s e l f that thou dost see, Not i n them seeing me. 4 Hence i t i s with eyes of love, not a s l i d e - r u l e of science, that Meredith checks nature's external measurements, Minute de t a i l s interest him because they are the expression of the idea l love, sanity, and unity of nature: Open hither, open hence, Scarce a bramble weaves a fence, Where the strawberry runs red, With white star-flower overhead; Cumbered by dry twig and cone, Shredded husks of seedlings flown, Mine of mole and spotted f l i n t : 5 Taking cognizance of both the re a l and i d e a l features of accessible Earth., Meredith finds nothing enigmatic or questionable i n her. I t i s nonsense, the poet states, to look beyond her or to t r y to read the inaccessible into her, as do those who cry fo r the "opiate 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, Conversations, p.294)-"nature understands no jest i n g ; she i s always true, always serious, always severe; she i s always r i g h t , and the errors and f a u l t s are always those of man". 3 The Thrush i n February,- I I , p.225. 4 Hymn to Colour, I I , p.262.-5 The Woods of Westermain, I I , p.34. 138 They see hot above or below; Farthest are they from my soul,' Earth whispers: 'they scarce have the t h i r s t , 'Except to unriddle a rune; 'And I spin none; only show, 'Would humanity soar from i t s worst, 'Winged above darkness and dole, 'How f l e s h unto s p i r i t must grow. •S p i r i t raves not for a goal. 1 That i s , because nature neither t e l l s us of nor shows us any-2 thing beyond s p i r i t , any questions l i k e "whither?" or "whence?" not only are a waste of time but are frowned upon by nature, for these vain, s e l f i s h queries are the cries of unfaith which slow nature's and man's complementary tides of evolution. Earth heeds them not: He may entreat, aspire, He may despair, and she has never heed. She drinking his warm sweat w i l l soothe his need, Not his desire. 3 And.man, i f he would assume his high place i n nature, should also question not; his work i s the important thing: Then l e t our trust be firm i n Good, Though we be of the fa s t i n g ; Our questions are a mortal brood, Our work i s everlasting. We children of Beneficence Are i n i t s being sharers; And Whither vainer sounds than.Whence, For word with such wayfarers. 4 Another aspect of 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 conception no doubt derived from 1 A F a i t h on T r i a l , I I , pp.256-7. 2 cf. Goethe ("Truth and Poetry", I I , p.168) - " a l l we can do i n the l i g h t - c a r of our destiny i s 'in cool s e l f -possession to hold the. reins with a firm hand," and to guide the wheels, now to the l e f t , now to the r i g h t , avoiding a stone here, a precipice t h e r e 1 . We don't know whither or whence." 3 Barth and Man, I I , p.94. 4 The Question Whither, I I , p.236. 139 Moliere} Meredith, i n spite of the combined joy and for t i t u d e that allowed him to see the oneness of a l l nature, saw only too c l e a r l y that l i f e was s t i l l a tragic tangle that even the strong men were not unravelling. Hence the Oomic S p i r i t became a necessary adjunct to the poet's philosophy of nature, for tragedy was inconsistent with his f a i t h i n progress; since 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 of c r i t i c i s m that permitted the poet to view present existence i n a way that was consis-tent with future joy, was the ether that allowed the reason to s t r i k e through the mist of the present with a l i g h t that re f l e c t e d back the future sun o f - s p i r i t . This "keynote of the wise", Meredith's f o r t i t u d e , his f a i t h i n the evolutionary strength of the v i t a l moment, and his 3 sheer physical joy i n the presence of nature were therefore a l l contributory to the poet's recognition of the i d e n t i t y i n nature of the objective and the subjective worlds. The p h i l -osophy r e s u l t i n g from a balance of these four elements con-s t i t u t e d the es s e n t i a l source of his mature acceptance of Earth's aim, her beneficence, and her basic s p i r i t ; for he was able to build on the foundation of laughter, struggle, and evo-l u t i o n a concept of nature that both dealt consistently with the world about him and gave hope of progress into the future. For example, he saw Earth's "goal of goals" as- both a s a t i s -1 John Lees, "George Meredith's L i t e r a r y Relations With Germany", The Modern Language Review, Vol.XII (pp.428-437), 1917, p.431. ... 2 Sencourt, jferedith, p.207. 3 c f . Youth In Age, I I I , p.261 - Meredith retained his youthful joy to the end. factory present l i f e for 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, brain and s p i r i t now enjoyed by the best men. This aim was such r e a l proof of love behind nature's law that Meredith could believe that nature's beneficence was applicable not only to Earth but also by analogy to the cosmos! Yet i t i s s i g n i f i c e n t that the poet very seldom spoke of the universe; i t was for him one of the incomprehensibles with which man should not concern himself. S p i r i t , however, was palpable to Meredith, for i t was c l o s e l y connected with the r e a l world. S p i r i t existed i n man ( i f he could but see i t ) and i n nature; pure s p i r i t , the 2 es s e n t i a l l i f e of nature, was the only God i n which Meredith could believe. But t h i s God represented the ultimate i d e a l to which man could never a t t a i n without reli n q u i s h i n g his claim to humanity; therefore, Meredith, l i k e Goethe, found that he could speak of God only as a rather vague, pantheistic d e i t y 3 that was equivalent to the v i t a l , creative soul of Earth. There was, however, one chief difference between Goethe's God and Meredith's: Meredith's Supreme Being was as much an outcome of the poet's concept of e t h i c a l evolution as of Goethian pan-theism. God for Meredith became the t h i r d member of the Triad 1 Meditation Under Stars, I I , p.266. 2 c f . Goethe ("Annals", I I , p.405) - "The very basis of my existence i s that God i s in.Nature and Nature i n God." 3 c f . Goethe (Eckermann, Conversations, p.389) - "Let people serve Him who gives to the beast his fodder, and to man meat and drink as much as he can enjoy. But I worship Him who has infused into the world such a power of production that, when only the m i l l i o n t h part of i t comes to l i f e , the world swarms with creatures to such a degree that war, pes-t i l e n c e , f i r e , and water cannot p r e v a i l against them. That i s my God.'" 141 as well as the l i v i n g s p i r i t i n nature; God was the abstract morality towards which man was progressing: 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 conception, and the nearer we get to a general b e l i e f i n the Abstract Deity - i . e . the more and more abstract, the nearer are men to a comprehension of the p r i n c i p l e s {morality, v i r t u e , etc.) than which we require nothing further 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 Meredith's mind during the formative years when Goethe's influence was so strong. Meredith had merely used Darwinism to make more de f i n i t e the e t h i c a l implications of Goethe's philosophy. God remained the s p i r i t of nature whether Meredith approached Him by way., of Goethian naturalism or evolution ^ because 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. It i s reasonable to conclude then that t h i s Goethian idea of Earth's unity was the Meredithian b e l i e f that stood firm i n the face of a l l the c o n f l i c t i n g thought (Darwinism included) of the V i c t o r i a n period. Meredith could always be-l i e v e i n nature's beneficent s p i r i t , the divine "Over-Reason" which was God, either 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 involved s t o i c a l recognition of struggle or through a courageous acceptance of nature's stern law of necessity be-hind which the poet could discern joy, s a c r i f i c e and love; for both approaches were consistent with his view of the r e a l and ideal; worlds as a basic 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 complete-ness. l ~ ~ L e t t e r s , I, p.171. ' 142 A COMPARISON OF THE CONCEPTS OF NATURE IN  TENNYSON AND MEREDITH THAT INCLUDES AN ESTIMATE  OF THE RELATIVE MODERNITY OF THEIR PHILOSOPHIES General approaches to nature One basic d i f f e r e n c e between the concepts of nature of 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 of an unhappy e a r l y l i f e , s u f f e r e d acute melancholia that manifested i t s e l f i n h i s over-emphasizing the p a i n f u l elements of t h i s l i f e , Meredith was always able to draw from the s p r i n g s of an ever-present joy a f o r t i t u d e that allowed-him to face p a i n cheer-f u l l y . These emotional a t t i t u d e s are important, f o r upon them depended the approaches of the two poets to nature. Tennyson's f a i t h i n the a b i l i t y of reason and s c i e n t i f i c knowledge to r e v e a l nature's t r u t h s o r i g i n a t e d from h i s emotional need ra 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 science to enlarge man's empire. And Meredith's acceptance of nature's benevolence came from an unquestioning d e l i g h t that permitted him to 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 uperstructure founded on i n t u i t i o n . C e r t a i n l y i t must be kept i n mind that Meredith was born nineteen years a f t e r Tennyson and that he, u n l i k e Tennyson, who was caught i n 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, was w r i t i n g most of h i s poetry during the p e r i o d when i t was the f a s h i o n to 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 of Darwinism r a t h e r than w i t h the s c i e n t i f i c f a c t s of e v o l u t i o n . The f a c t 143 remains, however, that both poets had determined t h e i r approaches to nature before 1859 and that temperament was the chief determinant. ' Tennyson did not r e a l i z e u n t i l too l a t e that his u t i l -i t a r i a n reaction to nature was inconsistent with s c i e n t i f i c attitude and scientific-knowledge, with the eternal question-ing that provided him with seeming truths about the i n d i v i d u a l parts of nature. These "truths" that replaced one enigma with a hundred p a i n f u l r i d d l e s led Tennyson farther and farther away from a conception of the whole that his emotions demanded. It may be that his view of nature was closer to fact- than was Meredith's; but i t was p h i l o s o p h i c a l l y very unsatisfactory, for f e e l i n g continually hampered Tennyson's attempt at any sort of a synthesis. Meredith, avoiding contradictory facts and questioning not the whence, the why, and the wherefore of l i f e , was both more s c i e n t i f i c and more philosophical than Tennyson, for his integration of the whole was aided rather than hindered by his emotion. I t seems rather i r o n i c that Tennyson, approach-ing nature by way of reason and science, was obliged 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 Meredith, appealing i n i t i a l l y to emotion for an inte r p r e t a t i o n of nature, was able to arrive at an i n t u i t i v e rationalism, a f a i t h embra-cing reason and science. The law of nature Both poets admitted the immutability of nature's law of change. But Tennyson divided that law into two parts. The law of gradation i n nature was, he conceded, a good law, f o r i t indicated a commendable order and sanity. Itgave no e v i -dence of unity i n nature because i t was only part of nature's necessity, but i t provided for Tennyson,as i t provided for Arnold, a moral example f o r man. However, th i s h a l f of nature's law was incompatible with the other h a l f , that which had control over l i f e and death and which for Tennyson lacked any semblance of moral order. The struggle for existence, the unwarranted suffering, and the waste i n nature a l l seemed cr u e l to Tennyson. He had to conclude that the law which effected these c r u e l t i e s on a cosmic scale was immoral. Hence he could allow nature's necessity a hold only on the physical part of man; he had to divide his "temporalized chain of being" into two chains, one subject to nature's necessary laws and the other functioning according to the morality of man and God. Because nature's law evinced moral e v i l as well as moral example Tennyson could see neither joy i n necessity nor beneficence i n nature. Meredith, on the other hand, f e l t that only i n necessity, the one law of beneficent nature, could man discern true joy: Doth man divide divine Necessity From Joy, between the Q,ueen of Beauty's breasts A sword i s driven; for those most glorious twain Present her. 1 Meredith saw no waste i n t h i s nature whose law of alternating 2 l i f e and death gave visions of the "springing To-be", for t h i s law was for Meredith evidence of an underlying morality i n nature that accorded with man's e t h i c a l nature. Because the 1 With the Persuader, I I I , p.198. 2 Seed-Time, I I , p.210. 145 ideas of waste, cruelty, and struggle for. existence a l l con-tradicted the morality, order, and sanity of nature, Meredith abjured them. And, though he recognized both the apparent e v i l i n unmerited suffering and the vastness of the cosmos, he could f e e l that these matters were irre l e v a n t to the p r i n c i p l e of love behind Earth's outer law. I t was not Meredith's p o l i c y , as I have said before, to go beyond the comprehensible. Yet to term him an unseeing optimist would be to assume that he did not consider a l l the implications.of evolution and Darwinism. His writings belie t h i s assumption. It seems to me that 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 his day was that nature's primary law was not self-preservation but co-operation. Let us now compare Tennyson's and Meredith's ideas concerning law. That they both conceived of law i n nature i s immediately evident. But Meredith believed i n a law of change that manifested both the creative and the regulative functions of nature, whereas Tennyson saw nothing of .creativity i n or behind nature's necessity, which for him was merely a mechan-i c a l law that possessed no element of the v i t a l i s m present i n Meredith's concept. Where Meredith i n t u i t i v e l y apprehended the a c t i v i t y of nature through observing the workings of law, Tennyson discerned only a l i f e l e s s pattern; s p i r i t , the only l i f e , was not for Tennyson part of nature. Consequently, Tennyson could personify nature only when she was a r e f l e c t i o n 1 of his own mood, but Meredith's moods usually originated from 1 cf. In Memoriam, I I I , pp.42,51,56,62,69, etc. 146 a sympathetic contact with the moods of nature. Man's place i n nature Tennyson and Meredith both believed that the future progress of the world depended upon the- actions of man himself and not upon nature's law; they were at one i n stressing an e t h i c a l progress. But Meredith's idea of e t h i c a l progress agreed with his concept of nature's evolution, whereas Tenny-son's f a i t h i n progress was founded upon a b e l i e f that man's absolute s p i r i t could gradually free man's body from i t s physical bondage i n nature. Moral man, for Tennyson, was born with a divine, not a natural urge: Follow the deer? follow the C h r i s t , the King, Live pure, speak true, r i g h t wrong, follow the Kind -Else, wherefore born? 1 That i s , Meredith conceived of a gradual progress toward a perfect co-ordination of the human f a c u l t i e s of blood, brain, and s p i r i t , but Tennyson hoped for a s p i r i t u a l progress that would r e s u l t i n a world of soul completely freed from sense. Where Meredith's monism demanded a Triad rooted i n earth and subject to nature's change, c o n f l i c t and se l e c t i o n , Tennyson's r e l i g i o n required a du a l i t y that recognized both the present subjection of body to nature's necessity and the freedom of permanent s p i r i t from nature. Hence, though both poets gave the torch of progress to man, Tennyson saw i t as. a means of escaping from nature, while Meredith regarded i t as a sacred flame given to man by the Mother so that he might run the race 1 Gareth and Lynette, V, p.30. 147 of l i f e i n harmony with her law of evolution. Tennyson, con-sidering the struggle for existence an immoral p r i n c i p l e of self-preservation, could not allow i t "to have any effect on man's immortal s p i r i t ; but Meredith, seeing i n struggle a means to altruism and co-operation, applied his e t h i c a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the Darwinian p r i n c i p l e to the evolution of s p i r i t . Yet, though Tennyson condemned the p r i n c i p l e of s e l f -preservation because i t was not conducive to the development of the race, his emotional need forced him to apply i t to man's s p i r i t , i n p a r t i c u l a r to his own i n d i v i d u a l s p i r i t . He was thus faced with a contradiction: for him, as for Meredith, egotism was opposed to the desirable progress of the race; yet h i s idea of immortality demanded an e g o t i s t i c a l assumption, for Tennyson believed that only the assurance of personal immortality made l i f e worth l i v i n g : The thought of working for the human race i s not incentive enough to virtue i f man i s not immortal. The whole race w i l l be ex t i n c t , probably, i n a few thousand years. 1 Meredith, however, did not l e t an inconsistency of t h i s sort unsettle his philosophy. One need compare only two poems, In 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 philosophies of the two poets. These poems both deal with the problem of immortality, but the former declares that a f a i n t trust of the larger hope of- personal immortality i s the only answer to the question of reunion with the beloved Hallam, while the l a t t e r emphasizes a turning to 1 Ward, "Talks with Tennyson", p.331. 148 earth for comfort and wisdom, and for signs that indicate the fullness of Marie's l i f e , the contribution to the race that constitutes her only immortality. Thus immortality for Tenn-yson had nothing to do with either the progress of the race or nature. C e r t a i n l y Meredith's idea of immortality seems to be a philosophy for martyrs, but i t i s not nearly as inconceiv-able and i l l o g i c a l as Archibald Strong would have us believe: It i s surely impossible to conceive of permanent S p i r i t divorced from permanent personality. Either there i s no immortality, or universal, single, and permanent s p i r i t , or there i s some kind of immortality i n which the i n d i v i d u a l has actual part. 1 Strong obviously has a "Tennysonian" bias that makes him i n -capable of recognizing i n Meredith's philosophy of nature a strong, i n t u i t i v e conviction of the oneness of 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, for Meredith, a good means leading to a good end. And, no matter how unacceptable Meredith's view may be, t h i s strong r e l i g i o u s f a i t h , coupled with his philosophical consistency, should convince one that his concept of immortality i s both conceivable and l o g i c a l . The attitudes of. the two poets toward progress and immortality thus determined i n a large measure t h e i r ideas of man's place i n nature. Tennyson, discerning no progress and no promise of man's permanence i n the scheme of nature, had to conclude that man's position i n an i n f i n i t e space-time universe was one of ins i g n i f i c a n c e . Man regained importance only when Tennyson vi s u a l i z e d him as reaching out away from nature and 1 Strong, Wordsworth and Meredith, p.174. 149 toward, the divine. Tennyson's explanation of the trag i c tangle of l i f e was that man was too much i n nature. Meredith, however, arrived at very d i f f e r e n t conclusions. Believing i n the creative evolution of man* Bferedith placed mankind at the top of nature's scale; f o r Meredith the e t h i c a l man reaching toward nature became her highest miracle. And, unlike Tennyson, Meredith saw i n present t r a g i c l i f e a proof that man i n general was not close enough to Earth. A general comparison of t h e i r philosophies  of and attitudes toward nature It i s int e r e s t i n g to observe that the temperaments of Tennyson and Meredith caused them to base th e i r concepts of nature upon d i f f e r e n t philosophies. Though both poets were on common ground i n a search for the U r b i l d , they turned to p h i l -osophers that approached t h i s unity from d i f f e r e n t d i r e c t i o n s ; Meredith found a mentor i n Goethe; Tennyson favoured Kant. What is of interest i n these choices i s that the naturalism of the two nineteenth-century poets survived or perished according to the choice made. Meredith's adoption of Goethe's philosophy per-mitted him to believe i n a naturalism s i m i l a r (except f o r i t s Darwinian elements) to that of the English Romantic poets, but without the transcendentalism that caused most of the Romantics of the nineteenth century to veer away from complete naturalism. Through Goethe Meredith came to see the world as a v i t a l e n t i t y engaged i n an active process of Becoming. 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 esse n t i a l l i f e -force. Because for him, as for Goethe, a l l was of Earth, Meredith 150 could embrace Darwinism as part of his unif i e d natural r e l i g i o n . But Tennyson, adhering to the transcendental f a i t h of Kant, was forced into a dualism f a r more d e f i n i t e than that of Wordsworth, of Coleridge, or of Shelley. Had Tennyson l i v e d i n the eighteenth century, when s c i e n t i f i c knowledge was close to the general ideas of philosophy, he doubtless would have believed i n natural r e l i g i o n , as Kant did. But, l i v i n g i n the nineteenth century and try i n g to follow the teachings of Kant} he could not achieve the synthesis between the "objective" and "subjective" worlds. The f a i l u r e of Tennyson's naturalism was l a r g e l y the r e s u l t of his i n a b i l i t y to reconcile the two 2 worlds of Being and Becoming i n the face of s c i e n t i f i c d i s -covery that ignored a philosophy of Being. As might be expected, Tennyson's d u a l i s t i c attitude made his general idea of nature a n t i t h e t i c a l at almost every point to Meredith's. Where Meredith saw nature's essence as a v i t a l , permanent s p i r i t informing matter, Tennyson viewed her as merely the transient summation of material existences. The l a t t e r , looking'upon nature according to his s c i e n t i f i c prejudice, found that she offered only a dissecting analysis of material experience; science allowed her no e t h i c a l function 1 It i s possible, I r e a l i z e , to carry too far an hypoth-esis such as t h i s one p a r a l l e l i n g the philosophies of Kant and Tennyson and those of Goethe and Meredith. 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 explain, i n part at le a s t , Tennyson's dualism and Meredith's monism. 2 Even Herbert Spencer, following the s c i e n t i f i c pre-cepts of the eighteenth century, believed that science and r e l i g i o n could not be reconciled unless the existence of a transcendental absolute was assumed. (Herbert Spencer, F i r s t P r i n c i p l e s , London, Williams and Norgate, 1875, i x -preface.) 151 and no t r u l y creative r o l e , and i t made of her a w i l l - l e s s , unthinking, non-purposive force. Regarding her again from a r e l i g i o u s viewpoint, Tennyson saw i n her c r u e l , . m a t e r i a l i s t i c struggle something antagonistic to both.God and .man that had to he borne only because i t was a d i s c i p l i n e for man's s p i r i t , the t r u e - r e a l i t y . Meredith, on the other hand, could discern i n nature the complete and v i t a l synthesis of material and s p i r i t u a l l i f e . An i n t e l l i g e n t , -benevolent, and purposive nature combined, for Meredith, a l l the et h i c a l and creative urges that existed i n man and nature's other creatures. She represented f o r Meredith e s s e n t i a l humanity, whereas she exemplified for Tennyson crass m a t e r i a l i t y . It i s apparent, then, that Meredith conceived of nature as an organic whole that included an external nature and the inner nature of man i n a natural framework of po s i t i v e good-ness. Yet the completeness of his philosophy does not indicate a f a c i l e optimism. C e r t a i n l y Meredith would not have con-curred with Huxley's agnostic attitude toward nature: The majority of us, I apprehend, profess neither pessimism nor optimism. We-hold that the world, i s neither so good, nor so bad as i t conceivably might be. 1 The poet would have said, rather, that this was the.best of 2 a l l possible worlds and that man must adjust himself to i t s 1 T.H.. Huxley, Evolution and Ethics and Other Essays,p.78. 2 cf. Webster's Collegiate D i c t i o n a r y ( f i f t h edition) d e f i n i t i o n of "optimism" - 1.- Ph i l o s . a. The doctrine that the world i s the best possible world, b. The doctrine that r e a l i t y i s e s s e n t i a l l y good. c. The doctrine that the good of l i f e overbalances the pain and e v i l of i t . 2. A n ' i n c l i n -ation to put the most favorable construction upon actions and happenings", or anticipate the best possible outcome. ("Pessimism" i s defined as the reverse of "optimism"). ' 152 order i f he would achieve happiness. But he would not have assumed, as did many American adherents of "Coueism" during the 1920's, that the juice of the C a l i f o r n i a orange and the con-stant r e i t e r a t i o n of the philosophy of inevitable betterment would bring about a golden age." Meredith's was an optimism founded upon the pr i n c i p l e s of r e s t r a i n t and balance that have been part of man's c u l t u r a l inheritance since they were f i r s t propounded by the early Greeks. Tennyson's philosophy, however, exhibited neither of these Greek v i r t u e s . Because he had set for himself the task of reconciling nineteenth-century science and r e l i g i o n accord-ing to eighteenth-century p r i n c i p l e s , he was forced into a dualism that destroyed any p o s s i b i l i t y of a balanced view of nature. His f a i t h i n science reacted against his r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s to produce an unfavourable conception of an external nature which had no control over the inner, s p i r i t u a l man and in which pain, and e v i l were so evident that they overbalanced any goodness that might be seen i n nature's order. Although Tennyson could sometimes be optimistic about s p i r i t i n man and God, he could not be other than pessimistic about a nature which, according to the findings of science, seemed to estab-l i s h the meaninglessness of existence and s t r i v i n g ; for he, unlike Meredith, was not able to put nature above science, to see i n nature an a l t r u i s t i c tendency that, belled the s e l f -preservation p r i n c i p l e -that science at t r i b u t e d to her. Whether one considers the di c t i o n a r y d e f i n i t i o n s of pessimism or 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 that Tennyson, insofar as nature was concerned, was a complete pessimist. Nature was for. Tennyson but the f i r s t act of a complicated play, an act which gave no hint of God's noble plan and which led man to despair of any denouement following t h i s present misery and pain: Act f i r s t , t h i s Earth, a stage so gloom'd with woe You a l l , b u t sicken at the s h i f t i n g scenes. And yet be patient. Our Playwright' may show In some f i f t h Act what th i s wild Drama means.,. 2 P a r a l l e l s between modern thought and the concepts  of nature of Tennyson and Meredith The past f o r t y or f i f t y years have witnessed a gradual breakdown of the philosophical concept of nature, with the result that 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 society i s the chief concern i n 1950, and nature i s relegated to a minor po s i t i o n ; poets may appre-ciate the beauty of external .scenery, but .no longer do they i n general personify 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 thesis that providence, purpose and progress cannot be regarded, i f they.be believed i n at a l l , as r e s u l t i n g from any inherent 4 tendency-in nature. Progress, i n p a r t i c u l a r , has been given 1 G.M. Trevelyan, The Poetry and Philosophy of George  Meredith, p.139 - "Nature, i t i s said [by these pessimists] i s wholly 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 resides [for them] i n the heart of man alone." 2. - The Play. VII, 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 natives there, Huxley states, 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 ) representing a con-stant threat to man. 4 Beach, Concept of Nature, p.547. 1 5 4 a s o c i a l , rather than a natural, status. Though s c i e n t i s t s 1 s t i l l recognize a b i o l o g i c a l progress, they agree that the idea of human progress, which contains the implication of right d i r e c t i o n for man but not necessarily f o r earth or the universe, i s not analogous with that of b i o l o g i c a l improve-2 mentv. Science has torn away a l l the props of the nineteenth-century ^concept of nature. That t h i s loss o-f f a i t h i n nature concurs i n many ways with Tennyson's d i s b e l i e f in. her does not mean that Tennyson's ideas are modern. For the modern v/orld has no nature p h i l -osophy, whereas Tennyson, even i n the act of condemning nature, admitted her existence f o r him. And his condemnation of her was due to a transcendental and personal approach that i s not i n harmony with the r e a l i s t i c , humanistic, and s o c i a l outlook of today. Tennyson s t i l l remains for us the t y p i c a l V i c t o r i a n , interested i n science and i n nature but a f r a i d of the ef f e c t of his knowledge upon his r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s . I t i s to Meredith's philosophy that one must turn for modern ideas, f o r his natural r e l i g i o n came much closer than did 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 idea of Meredith's, that deserves p a r t i c u l a r mention because of i t s modernness i s his b e l i e f i n the exis-tence of an a l t r u i s t i c i d e a l i n society, whether that society be composed of human beings or of other creatures, His regard 1 , Ideas and B e l i e f s of the V i c t o r i a n s , p.185. 2 I b i d . , p.184. for values rather than for things, for altruism rather than for egotism, for co-operation rather than for self-preservation, i s i n complete harmony with some of the mast advanced, ideas of bio l o g i s t s today. Although his f a i t h i n the "strong" man tended to obscure t h i s s o c i o l o g i c a l i d e a l , Meredith was among the f i r s t to r e a l i z e the prime importance to evolution of co-operation among the "numbers"; h i s b e l i e f that co-operation and the love born of t h i s basic urge constitute the primary p r i n c i p l e of b i o l o g i c a l and s o c i a l evolution i s now a recog-nized theory among many distinguished b i o l o g i s t s . And what Meredith 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 of the hands of the s e l f - i n t e r e s t e d men1 and given i n trust to the "men of understanding and 2 humility, whose guiding p r i n c i p l e i s love". 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 equivalent to nature's purposive and benevolent s p i r i t i s not at present, as I have stated, part of our general philosophy. Nevertheless, I believe that t h i s fundamental doctrine of naturalism w i l l come into i t s own again before the end of t h i s twentieth century. For,. although we are so. 1 Tennyson also desired the same a l t r u i s t i c end; but, because he believed i t was attainable only by supernatural 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 fact, his idea of altruism i s not comparable with the modern i n t e r -pretation. 2 M.F. Ashley Montagu, "The Origin 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 of Co-operation", Horizon, pp. 381-399, Vol.XIX, No. 114, June, 1949, p.398" 156 concerned at thi s moment with both the r e h a b i l i t a t i o n following two world wars and the preparation for an impending war, we are even now beginning to r e a l i z e that a new synthesis, a new unity of a l l l i f e , i s being formulated by the greatest thinker of our century, 1 Albert E i n s t e i n . Most of us laymen have at least a vague comprehension of one of the basic tenets of Einstein's theory, that i s , that the world i s best explained i n terms of energy, not matter. When we canrecognize the implications of atomic energy rather than the destructive aspects of the atomic bomb, then our poets may again see the world (as Goethe and Meredith saw i t , and Tennyson wished to see i t ) as a v i t a l unity embracing a l l inorganic and organic l i f e . 157 BIBLIOGRAPHY I BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES Bateson, F. W., ed., The Cambridge Bibliography of English L i t e r a t u r e , Cambridge, University Press,1940. Ehrsam, T. G., Deily, R.H., Smith, R. M., eds., Bibliographies of Twelve V i c t o r i a n Authors, New York, The H. W. Wilson Co., 1936 Templeman, W. D., ed., Bibliographies of Studies i n  V i c t o r i a n L i t e r a t u r e , 1952-1944, Urbana, Univer-s i t y of I l l i n o i s Press, 1945. II TENNYSON a) Works Tennyson, A l f r e d , The Works of Tennyson, ed. by Hallam Tennyson, London, Macmillan and Co.Ltd., 1908, 9 vols. Tennyson, C. B. L., ed., "Tennyson: Unpublished Poetry", Nineteenth 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 Lord Tennyson, A Memoir, London, Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1897, 2 vols. b) Biographical and C r i t i c a l 1)Books Auden, W. H., Tennyson, An Introduction and Selection, London, Phoenix House Ltd., 1946. Brown, A. W., The Metaphysical Society, New York, Columbia University Press, 1947. Dawson, W. H., "Tennyson's treatment of nature", The  Makers of English Poetry, New York, Fleming H. R e v e l l C o . , 1906, pp.187-98. Dowden, E., Studies i n Literature(1789-1877), London, Kegan Paul, Trench, TrUbner and Co. Ltd., 1909. Gates, L. E., "Tennyson's Relation to Common L i f e " , Studies and Appreciations, New York, The Macmillan Co., 1900, pp.60-77. Gates, L.E. , "Nature i n Tennyson's Poetry", Studies  and Appreciations, New York,.The Macmillan Co., 1900, pp.77-91. Lang, Andrew, A l f r e d Tennyson, Edinburgh William Blackwood and Sons, 1904. Lodge, S i r 0. J. , "The Attitude of Tennyson Towards Science", Modern Problems, London, Methuen and Co. , 1912, pp.329-36. Lucas, F. L., Tennyson, Poetry and Prose, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1947. L y a l l , S i r A..Tennyson, New York, The Macmillan Co., 1902. Masterman, 0. F. G., Tennyson As A Religious Teacher, London, Methuen and Co. Ltd., 1910. Nicolson, Harold, Tennyson, Aspects of his L i f e , Character and Poetry, London, Constable and Co. Ltd., 1923. Tennyson, Charles, A l f r e d Tennyson, New York, The Macmillan Co., 1949. 2)Periodical Essays and L i t e r a r y Publications Cooper, A. B. "Tennyson, the formative influences of his f i r s t twenty years", The Bookman (London), October, 1909, pp.20-30. Fisher, C , "Tennyson's Relations to Science", The New  Century Review, "Vol. 7 (January-June, 1900), pp.456-65. Hines, J. A., "Mr. Tennyson as a Botanist", The Living  Age, Vol. 119 (October-December, 1873), pp.372-77. Knowles, James, "Aspects of Tennyson - a personal reminiscence", Nineteenth Century, Vol. 33 (1893), pp.164-188. Luce, M., "Nature i n Tennyson", The L i v i n g Age., Vol. 287 (October-December, 1915), p.156 and p.604. Paden, W. D., "Tennyson i n Egypt", Un i v e r s i t y of Kansas Publications, Humanistic Studies No.27,1942. Potter, 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, Vol. 16 (October, 1937), pp.321-343. 159 Rutland, W. R., "Tennyson and the theory of Evolution", Essays and Studies, Vol. 26 (1940), pp.7-29. Ward, W i l f r i d , "Talks with Tennyson", The L i v i n g Age, Vol . 210 (July-September, 1896), pp.325-35. Watts-, T. , "Aspects of Tennyson - Tennyson as a nature . poet", Nineteenth Century, V o l . 33 (1893), p.836. Watts, T., "Aspects of Tennyson - As the Poet of Evolution", Nineteenth Century, Vol.34 (1893),p.657. Wheeler, P. M., "Tennyson, a V i c t o r i a n Astronomer", Popular Astronomy, Vol. 56 (December, 1948), pp.527-40. Young, G. M., "The Age of Tennyson", Proceedings of the  B r i t i s h Academy, Vol. 25 (1939), pp.125-142. I l l MEREDITH a) Works Meredith, G., The Works of George Meredith (Memorial E d i t i o n ) , New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910, 29 vols. Meredith, G., The Ordeal of Richard Feverel (1859), New York, The Modern Library, 1927. Meredith, G.. "Unpublished Letters of George Meredith (1886-87)", arranged by R. E. G. George, Nine- teenth Century and A f t e r , Vol. 103 (January-June, 1928), pp.149-162. . b) Biographical and C r i t i c a l 1)Books Beach, J. W., The Comic S p i r i t i n George Meredith, New York, Longmans, Green and Co., 1911. Chambers, E. K., "Meredith's Nature Poetry", i n A Sheaf  of Studies, London, Oxford University Press, 1942, pp.84-91. C h i s l e t t , Wm., George Meredith, A Study and An Appraisal, Boston, Richard G. Badger, 1925. Crees, J . H. E., George Meredith, A Study of his Works  and Personality, Oxford, B. H. Blackwell, 1918. 160 C u n l i f f e , J . W., English Literature During the Last  Half-Century,. New York, The Macmillan Co., 1923. C u n l i f f e , J . W., Leaders of the V i c t o r i a n Revolution, New York and London, D. Appleton Century Co. Inc., 1934. Curie, R. H. P., Aspects of George Meredith, London, George Rutledge and Sons Ltd., 1908. E l l i s , S. M., George Meredith, His L i f e and Friends  i n Relation to his Work, London, Grant, Richards Ltd., 1919. Hearn, Lafcadio, "Meredith's 'Earth and Man'", i n Interpretations of L i t e r a t u r e , New York, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1924, Vol. I, pp.370-8.0. Henderson, M. Sturge, George Meredith, London, Methuen and Co. , 1908-. Lowes, J . L., "Two Readings of Earth", i n Essays i n Appreciation, Boston and New York, Houghton M i f f l i n Co., 1936, pp.121-156. Peele, Robert, The. Creed of A V i c t o r i a n Pagan, Cam-bridge ,• Mass. , Harvard University Press, 1931. Sassoon, S., Meredith, London, Constable and Co. Ltd., 1948. Sencourt, R. E., The L i f e of George Meredith, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929. Strong, A. T., Three Studies i n Shelley and An Essay  on Nature i n Wordsworth and Meredith, London, Oxford Univ e r s i t y Press; 1921, pp.148-189. Trevelyan, G. M., The Poetry and Philosophy of George  Meredith,...London, Constable, and Co. Ltd., 1920. 2 p e r i o d i c a l Essays and L i t e r a r y Publications A l l e n , Grant, "Our Noble Selves", Fo r t n i g h t l y Review, Vol. 42 (September, 1887), pp.214, 217, 220. Chesterton, G.-K., "The moral philosophy of -Meredith", The Contemporary Review, Vol 96 (July-December, 1909), pp.23-29. C u n l i f f e , J . W., "Modern Thought i n Meredith's Poems", Publications of the Modern Language Association of  America, Vol. 27 (1912), pp.l*^25TT" 161 Foote, G. W., "George Meredith: Freethinker", The English Review, Vol. 13 (December, 1912 - March, 1913), pp.602-16. Henderson, M. Sturge','"Achievements and theories of' Meredith", North American Review, September, 1908, pp.347-59. Henderson, M. Sturge, "Some Thoughts Underlying Meredith's Poems", International Journal of E t h i c s , Vol . 16 (October, 1905-July, 1906), pp.340-352. Holbeach, II. , "This Year's Song-Crop" , Fraser's Magazine, Vol. 44 (July-December, 1851), pp.618-634. Lees, John, "George Meredith's L i t e r a r y Relations With Germany", The Modern Language Review, Vol. 12, 1917, pp.428-437. Magnus, L., "The Succession of Mr. Meredith", The Fo r t n i g h t l y Review, Vol. 86 (July-December, 1907), pp.932-946. Moffatt, J . , "Mr. Meredith on Rel i g i o n " , The Hibbert  Journal, Vol. 3 (1904-05), pp.686-705. Moffatt, J.,"''The Empty Purse'", The Hibbert Journal, Vol . 14, A p r i l , 1916, pp.613-626. Pollock, J . , "George Meredith", The Contemporary Review, Vol. 161, 1942, pp.285-8. Re v e l l , W. F., "Nature Poetry of Meredith: Earth and Man", The Westminster Review, Vol. 142 (July-Dec ember, 1894), pp.506-523. Robinson, E. A., "Meredith's L i t e r a r y Theory and Science", Publications of-the Modern Language  Association of America, Vol. 52, 1938, pp.857-68. Stawell, F. M., "The Conception of Nature i n the Poems of Meredith", International Journal of Et h i c s , Vol . 12 (October, 1901-July, 1902), pp.316-334. Symons,.A., "George Meredith: with some unpublished l e t t e r s " , The Fo 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, Vol. 127 (January-June, 1925, pp.500-509. OTHER REFERENCES CONSULTED a) Books Beach, J.W. , The Concept of Nature i n Nineteenth-Century English Poetry, New York, The Macmillan Co. 1936. Benn, A. W., The History of English Rationalism i n the  Nineteenth Century, London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1906, 2 vols. , Brooke, Stopford A., Naturalism i n English Poetry, London, J. M. Dent and Sons Ltd'., 1902. Butler, Joseph, The Works of Joseph Butler, D.C.L., ed. by Wm. Gladstone, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1897. Cassirer, Ernst, Rousseau, Kant, Goethe, translated by J. Gutmann, P. K r i s t e l l e r and J. Randall, J r . , Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1945. Chambers, R o b e r t V e s t i g e s of the Natural H i s t o r y of  Creation, Twelfth E d i t i o n , London and Edinburgh, W. and R. Chambers," 1884. Chaucer, Geoffrey, Canterbury Tales, ed. by J. M. Manly New York, Henry Holt and Co., 1928. Collingwood, R. G., The Idea of Nature, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1945. Crum,.Ralph B., S c i e n t i f i c Thought i n Poetry, New York, Columbia Un i v e r s i t y Press, 1931. Cruse, Amy, The Victorians and Their Books, London, George A l l e n and Unwin Ltd., 1935. Darwin, Charles, On The Origin of Species by means of  Natural Selection (1859), London, Ward, Lock & Co. Ltd., 1901 Darwin, Charles, The Descent of Man and Selection- i n  Relation 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 Culture, London, Sheed and Ward, 1948. Eckermann, J . P., Conversations with Goethe, trans-lated by John Oxenford, London, J. M. Dent and Sons Ltd., 1930. 163 E l l i o t t - B i n n s , L. E., Religion i n the V i c t o r i a n Era, London and R e d h i l l , Lutterworth Press, 1936. F a i r c h i l d , H. N. , The Noble Savage, New York, Columbia University Press-, 1928. Fiske, J., Darwinism and Other Essays, London and New York, Macmillan and Co.,, 1879. Goethe, J . W. von, The Autobiography of Goethe, Truth  and Poetry: from my own l i f e , trans, by John Oxen-ford, London, George B e l l and Sons, 1897, 2 vols, (also includes "Annals, or Day and Year Papers", translated by Charles Nisbet) Huxley, Aldous, "Wordsworth i n the t r o p i c s " , Do.What  You W i l l Essays, London, 1929, pp.113-139. Huxley, Thomas H., Darwiniana, London, Macmillan and Co., 1893.* Huxley, Thomas H., Man's Place i n Nature and other Anthropological Essays, London, Macmillan and Co., 1894. Huxley, Thomas H., Evolution and Ethics and other  essays, London, Macmillan-and Co., 1895. Locke, John-, The. Works of John Locke , London, Tegg, Sharpe, and others, 1823, 10 vols. Lovejoy, A. 0., The Great Chain of Being, Cambridge Mass., Harvard Univ e r s i t y Press, 1936. L y e l l , S i r C , P r i n c i p l e s of Geology, Ninth E d i t i o n , Boston, L i t t l e , Brown and Co., 1853. L y e l l , S i r C , The Geological Evidences of the A n t i q u i t y  of Man, Second E d i t i o n , London, John Murray, 1863. Malthus, T. R., An Essay on Population (1798), London, J i ' M . Dent and Sons Ltd., 1927, 2 vols. Randall, J . H., The Making of The Modern Mind. Boston and New York, Houghton M i f f l i n Co., 1926. Raven, C. E., English Naturalists From Neckam to Ray. Cambridge', University Press, 1947. Robertson, J. G., Goethe and the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1912. 164 Schweitzer, Albert, G-oethe, London, Adam and Charles Black, 1949. Sherrington, S i r C , Goethe on Nature and on Science, Cambridge,.. Cambridge Univ e r s i t y Press, 1949. "Spencer,-Herbert, F i r s t P r i n c i p l e s , London, Williams and Norgate, 1875. Stevenson, L i o n e l , Darwin Among the Poets, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1932. Swinburne, A. C , Under The Microscope, London, D. White, 1872. Temple, Wm., Nature, Man and God, London, Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1934. t Tinker, C. B., Nature's Simple Plan, Princeton, . University Press,.1922. Yftiitehead, A l f r e d N., Science and the Modern World, New York, The Macmillan Co., 1926. Willey, B a s i l , The Eighteenth-Century Background, Lon-don, Chatto and Windus, 1940. , Ideas and Bel i e f s of the V i c t o r i a n s , • London, Sylvan Press, 1949. , Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, F i f t h e d i t i o n , Toronto, Thomas A l l e n , Ltd., 1936. b) Periodical- Essays and L i t e r a r y Publications Dowden, E., "The Po e t i c a l Feeling f o r External Nature", The Contemporary Review, Vol.2 (May-August, 1866), pp. 535-556. Merriam, John C., "Influence of Science upon Appre-c i a t i o n of Nature", Carnegie I n s t i t u t e of Wash-ington, Supplementary Publications No. 44, November 21, 1938. • Montagu, M. F. Ashley, "The Origin 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 of Co-operation", Horizon, Vol.XIX, No. 114, (June, 1949), pp.381-399. , "Wordsworth Grows Old", The Times L i t e r a r y Supplement, A p r i l 21, 1950, pp.237-8. 

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