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of the feeling that we are drifting away from all our old landmarks and anchorages towards we know not what mysterious doom'—we have here a reason for distrusting the permanence of that unquestionable popularity which the theatre commands at present. It is clear, moreover, that the demand for mere amusement has enormously increased, and the music-hall usurps the place of the theatre. The political and social issues now before the world are so large and so engrossing, the changes so perturbing and so rapid, the daily stress and strain so exhausting, that we have neither time nor energy to spend on the serious discussion of dramatic themes, or the full enjoyment of the higher stage. The result is a deterioration of taste, and the presentation of much very poor stuff upon the boards. What we want is to be amused, we care not how: the frivolity of the drama seems an indispensable relief from the seriousness of life.
For the drama to attain its highest popularity and success we require a light-hearted age, and an age not much given to reading, or to brooding over the riddles of humanity. Such an age was the eighteenth century. Such was that embodiment of it so admirably described by George Eliot in her picture of Old Leisure.' Shall we ever see a revival of that spirit? This, one would say, is impossible. Yet, in default of it or something like it, we fear that the English drama, or English comedy at all events, has seen its best days. We have pointed out certain social and moral differences between our age and that of our grandfathers, which seem at first sight to justify the suspicion entertained by some dramatic critics fifty-five years ago. Events may prove that the decay which they then observed was a transient phase of our dramatic art, and its subsequent revival the lasting one. For many reasons we trust that it
be but we dare not play the prophet further.
Art. V.-VIRGIL AND TENNYSON: A LITERARY
1. P. Vergilii Maronis Opera Omnia. Recensuerunt T. L.
Macmillan, 1898. 4. The Early Poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson. Edited with a Critical Introduction, Commentaries, and Notes, by John Churton Collins. London: Methuen, 1900. 5. Tennyson. His Art and Relation to Modern Life. By Stopford A. Brooke. Two vols. New edition. London: Isbister, 1900. 6. Memories of the Tennysons. By the Rev. H. D. Rawns
ley. Glasgow: MacLehose, 1900. 7. Tennyson: a Critical Study. By Stephen Gwynn. Edinburgh: Blackie, 1899.
• I salute thee, Mantovano,
I that loved thee since my day began.' Few books have had a longer or more living influence than the 'Parallel Lives' of Plutarch. Its shining examples of character and genius have affected and inspired the emotion and emulation of all ages and portions of the Western world. If the trophies of Miltiades have caused sleepless nights to many besides Themistocles, it is Plutarch whom envy or ambition must blame or thank. Yet of the thousands who have sauntered through or lingered in Plutarch's gallery, how many have, really noted its arrangement? Many have read the 'Lives': few have read the ‘Comparisons. Most common is it to speak only of Plutarch's Lives,' and, ignoring the epithet he gave them, to forget that they are parallels.
Plutarch's method, indeed, has gone out of fashion, as history has become more scientific and less picturesquemore pedantic, perhaps some would say, and less historic. History, it is seen, if it repeats itself, does so with a difference, and the historic or geographic parallel only provokes a smile of superiority. Yet the method of Plutarch
has its advantages. Truth to tell, it is, as Bacon remarked, quite as much a part of science to note resemblances as to note differences. Often the differences are natural or necessary, and it is the resemblances which are surprising. Similarities, in style and genius, between the late Lord Tennyson and the Roman Virgil have often been noticed. The comparison was, perhaps, first made in print by Lord Tennyson's old friend, the Rev. R. D. B. Rawnsley, a quarter of a century ago. It was perhaps rather of Mr Andrew Lang's pretty allusion that the poet himself was thinking when he remarked to a friend: 'Someone once called me the English Virgil'; but in any case he was aware of the suggestion and was pleased by it. The parallel of their lives, however, has never been as fully worked out is it deserves to be. For, striking as is the analogy when once suggested, in general terms and on the surface, it will be found still more striking when the two biographies are, after the manner of Plutarch, placed side by side.
The life of Tennyson has been given us in a singularly full and happy form. Virgil's life we no longer possess in a form comparable to this. But such a picture of him did once exist, and of that picture considerable relics and traces remain. Beside the three great works of Virgil, the • Eclogues,'"Georgics,' and 'Æneid,' there have come down, as scholars know, various minor works in particular two hexameter pieces, the Culex,' or Gnat,' and the Ciris,' a mythological poem; a pretty idyll, entitled the ‘Moretum’or Salad'; the ‘Copa,' or ‘Mine Hostess,' a short elegiac piece; and, further, a small collection, chiefly of lyrical pieces, called the 'Catalepta,' or 'Catalepton. Several · Lives' of the poet, longer or shorter, have also survived. These it is not unusual to treat with neglect or discredit, as a tissue of forgery or a mass of accretions. But this is surely id mistake. Virgil, though like Tennyson he loved seclusion, did not live or die in a corner, but rather in the fullest blaze of light. He was a great figure in the great world of Rome when Rome was at her highest intellectual level. Of that Rome he may, like Horace, properly be called a laureate poet. He was the friend of the Emperor, and of the greatest statesmen and the leading literary men of the day. By two of these, Tucca and Varius, specially intimate friends of long standing, his papers were sifted, and his great epic edited, under the Emperor's own direc
tion. Varius, himself an excellent and admired poet, also wrote his friend's Life,' He wrote with full knowledge of the persons and the facts while most of the persons were still living and the facts were still fresh. His memoir contained, we have reason to believe, a full and sufficient account of the poet, of his life and work, his education and friendships, his habits of composition, personal traits, anecdotes, table-talk, good stories, perhaps scandals, obiter dicta, and the like, together with illustrative extracts from the poet's poems, whether published or unpublished, and from his correspondence, both his own letters and those of friends. When it was written, many of the documents on which it was based, such as the letters of the Emperor, like those of the Queen to Tennyson, were in evidence, and remained so long after. It would have been impossible to make any serious misstatement which many living friends could correct, or which could be contradicted by reference to documents undoubtedly authentic, or to interpolate any poem or portion of a poem as Virgil's without authority.
On this · Life' by Varius, and on the authorised edition or editions of his poems, it is pretty clear that the later authorities rested, as long as any serious and strong critical spirit remained. The best that we now have is a fairly long sketch, probably by Suetonius, much in the nature of a Dictionary of Biography'article. This no doubt is a reduction from the · Life' by Varius, but has been again added to and embroidered from other less excellent sources. In Virgil's case, as in most others, there were current, immediately after his death, and perhaps even during his lifetime, conflicting texts and semi-authenticated stories, and some of these doubtless established themselves in lieu of, or side by side with, the genuine ; but without entering into the minutiæ of discrimination, it may be said that we possess a considerable body of information about Virgil, and that when due allowance has been made for such accretions, a great deal remains, well attested or carrying its own claim to credence. We know more, probably, about the life of Virgil than we do about the life of Shakespeare. To state this may not indeed be to state very much. The late Master of Balliol, whose historical scepticism knew hardly any limit, was fond of saying that all that we really know about Shakespeare's life could be
of of Us
written on a half-sheet of note-paper. The Master, it is true, did not live to see the brilliant essay of his distinguished pupil Mr Sidney Lee, but even had he done so he would probably have stuck to his epigram.
Taking then the life of Virgil as we have it, let us put it side by side with that of Tennyson. The regular method of Plutarch would no doubt be to recite first the one career and then the other, and finally to institute the comparison. For our purpose, however, it would seem better to take the two lives together. The life of Tennyson may be assumed to be generally known, that of Virgil will be best understood when thus brought into comparison point by point.
The large differences are obvious. Virgil was born and spent his days in Italy, the Italy of the last century before the coming of Christ; Tennyson in England, the Englan of the nineteenth century of the Christian era. Tennyson lived to eighty-six, Virgil died at fifty-one. Tennyson married and saw children and grandchildren of his blood; Virgil had neither wife nor child. Tennyson lived all his days under a constitutional monarchy; Virgil first under a Republic, then under a despotism. Virgil wrote three principal works in three styles—the pastoral, the didactic, the epic-but all in one metre, though with great variety within that metre. It is only in his minor poems that we find him using either elegiac or lyric measures. There is little here to match the infinite variety of Tennyson.
But all these contrasts, with the exception of the personal differences of length of life and domestic surroundings, are not in reality nearly so great as would at first sight appear. Looking at history in the large way, what is seen is that Virgil flourished when the Roman Republic was changing into the imperial monarchy of the Cæsars ; what will be seen hereafter is that Tennyson flourished when the English realm and monarchy were expanding into the British Empire.
Between the old senatorial oligarchy of Rome and the government of England as it existed under the hereditary monarchy, the privileged House of Lords, and the unreformed House of Commons, there is no small similarity. It is one of the great services of Mommsen and his scholars to have shown that the movement towards the Empire --the Roman revolution, as it is sometimes styled--was still a democratic movement, fought for, and issuing