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Anglo-American antiphony

HIDE
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Dedication
 Table of Contents
 Prelude
 Theme and variations
 Exposition the first: The method...
 1. Introit
 2. Empirical procedures
 3. Evangelical principles
 4. Philosophical theology
 5. Spiritual sense
 6. Theodiceal impulse
 7. Set pieces
 8. Language method
 9. Intra-romantic relationship...
 Exposition the second: The method...
 10. Introit
 11. Perspective-by-perspective...
 12. Religious methodology
 13. Suspenseful subjectivity
 14. Experience and faith
 15. Roots of theory
 16. The play of skepticism
 17. Language method
 Recapitulation and cadenza
 Notes
 Works cited
 Index
University Press of Florida
PRIVATE ITEM Digitization of this item is currently in progress.
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00100394/00001

Material Information

Title: Anglo-American antiphony the late romanticism of Tennyson and Emerson
Physical Description: xv, 352 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Brantley, Richard E
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Gainesville

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Comparative literature -- English and American   ( lcsh )
Comparative literature -- American and English   ( lcsh )
Romanticism -- English-speaking countries   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )

Notes

Summary: This is Richard Brantley's most wide-ranging and his most personal book. It connects the epistemology of John Locke to evangelical Christianity, showing how the late ("but not belated") Romanticism of Emerson's prose and Tennyson's In Memoriam A. H. H. exemplifies the period's trust in experience as the best means of knowing what is true. Interpreting their work in light of the eighteenth-century thought of John Wesley (founder of British Methodism) and Jonathan Edwards (leader of the American Great Awakening), Brantley composes a complex harmony of ideas, much as the antiphonal voices in a divided chancel choir rejoice in agreeable, yet complicated, song. With a willingness to risk the widest ramifications of his ideas, Brantley explores the creative tension between empiricism and evangelicalism, reaffirming the hopefulness of Romantic literature and of the Romantic writers who used their poetry and prose to examine issues of personal urgency. He seeks specific answers to the question of ultimate meaning in human existence, boldly asserting that the optimism of Tennyson and Emerson "makes so much sense for their social world that it may even make sense for today's individual-in-society." His method is relatively unsystematic, for he invokes Keats's "Negative Capability," the ability to rest with "uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason." While emphasizing this value amid multiple perspectives and cultures, Brantley, in this concluding volume of his historical-critical tetralogy, aspires to the condition of open mind and warm heart that he finds in Wesley, Edwards, Tennyson, and Emerson.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 313-335) and index.
Statement of Responsibility: Richard E. Brantley.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 28633825
lccn - 93030648
isbn - 0813012473 (alk. paper)
Classification: lcc - PR5592.R63 B73 1994
ddc - 821/.8
System ID: UF00100394:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00100394/00001

Material Information

Title: Anglo-American antiphony the late romanticism of Tennyson and Emerson
Physical Description: xv, 352 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Brantley, Richard E
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Gainesville

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Comparative literature -- English and American   ( lcsh )
Comparative literature -- American and English   ( lcsh )
Romanticism -- English-speaking countries   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )

Notes

Summary: This is Richard Brantley's most wide-ranging and his most personal book. It connects the epistemology of John Locke to evangelical Christianity, showing how the late ("but not belated") Romanticism of Emerson's prose and Tennyson's In Memoriam A. H. H. exemplifies the period's trust in experience as the best means of knowing what is true. Interpreting their work in light of the eighteenth-century thought of John Wesley (founder of British Methodism) and Jonathan Edwards (leader of the American Great Awakening), Brantley composes a complex harmony of ideas, much as the antiphonal voices in a divided chancel choir rejoice in agreeable, yet complicated, song. With a willingness to risk the widest ramifications of his ideas, Brantley explores the creative tension between empiricism and evangelicalism, reaffirming the hopefulness of Romantic literature and of the Romantic writers who used their poetry and prose to examine issues of personal urgency. He seeks specific answers to the question of ultimate meaning in human existence, boldly asserting that the optimism of Tennyson and Emerson "makes so much sense for their social world that it may even make sense for today's individual-in-society." His method is relatively unsystematic, for he invokes Keats's "Negative Capability," the ability to rest with "uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason." While emphasizing this value amid multiple perspectives and cultures, Brantley, in this concluding volume of his historical-critical tetralogy, aspires to the condition of open mind and warm heart that he finds in Wesley, Edwards, Tennyson, and Emerson.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 313-335) and index.
Statement of Responsibility: Richard E. Brantley.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 28633825
lccn - 93030648
isbn - 0813012473 (alk. paper)
Classification: lcc - PR5592.R63 B73 1994
ddc - 821/.8
System ID: UF00100394:00001

Table of Contents
    Half Title
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Dedication
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Prelude
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
    Theme and variations
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
    Exposition the first: The method of in memoriam
        Page 25
        Page 26
    1. Introit
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    2. Empirical procedures
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
    3. Evangelical principles
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
    4. Philosophical theology
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
    5. Spiritual sense
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
    6. Theodiceal impulse
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
    7. Set pieces
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
    8. Language method
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
    9. Intra-romantic relationships
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
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        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
    Exposition the second: The method of Emerson's prose
        Page 151
        Page 152
    10. Introit
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
    11. Perspective-by-perspective understanding
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
    12. Religious methodology
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
    13. Suspenseful subjectivity
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
    14. Experience and faith
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
    15. Roots of theory
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
    16. The play of skepticism
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
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        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
    17. Language method
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
    Recapitulation and cadenza
        Page 245
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
    Notes
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
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        Page 306
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        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
    Works cited
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
        Page 319
        Page 320
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        Page 335
        Page 336
    Index
        Page 337
        Page 338
        Page 339
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Full Text




















Anglo-American Antiphony












cAfnglo fmerican

ufintiphony
THE LATE
ROMANTICISM OF
TENNYSON AND EMERSON





Richard E. Brantley


IMIVERSITY OF FLORIDt LIBRARIES
UNIVERSITY PRESS OF FLORIDA
Gainesville Tallahassee Tampa Boca Raton Pensacola Orlando Miami Jacksonville











Copyright 1994 by the Board of Regents of the State of Florida
Printed in the U.S. on acid-free paper )
All Rights Reserved

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Brantley, Richard E.
Anglo-American antiphony: the late romanticism of Tennyson and
Emerson / Richard E. Brantley.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index.
ISBN 0-8130-1247-3 (alk. paper)
i. Tennyson, Alfred Tennyson, Baron, I809-1892-Criticism and
interpretation. 2. Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882-
Criticism and interpretation. 3. Literature, Comparative-
English and American. 4. Literature, Comparative-American
and English. 5. Romanticism-United States. 6. Romanticism
-England. I. Title.
PR5592.R63B73 1994 93-30648
821'.8-dc20

The painting of Tennyson by Samuel Lawrence is reproduced by
permission of the National Portrait Gallery, London. The
photograph of Emerson is reproduced by permission of the
Houghton Library, Harvard University.

The University Press of Florida is the scholarly publishing
agency for the State University System of Florida, comprised of
Florida A & M University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida
International University, Florida State University, University of
Central Florida, University of Florida, University of North Florida,
University of South Florida, and University of West Florida.

University Press of Florida
15 Northwest i5th Street
Gainesville, Florida 3261I






























For our daughters
JESSICA AND JUSTINE


and in memorial
RABUN LEE BRANTLEY, JR.
(1933-1956)



















Contents





Prelude / ix
Theme and Variations / i

EXPOSITION THE FIRST.
THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL

i. Introit / 27
2. Empirical Procedures / 33
3. Evangelical Principles / 51
4. Philosophical Theology / 65
5. Spiritual Sense / 90o
6. Theodiceal Impulse / 97
7. Set Pieces / io6
8. Language Method / 115
9. Intra-Romantic Relationships / 127

EXPOSITION THE SECOND.
THE METHOD OF EMERSON'S PROSE

io. Introit / 153
ii. Perspective-by-Perspective Understanding / I6o
12. Religious Methodology / 166
13. Suspenseful Subjectivity / 177





CONTENTS


14. Experience and Faith / I93
I5. Roots of Theory / 204
i6. The Play of Skepticism / 211
I7. Language Method / 236


Recapitulation and Cadenza / 245
Notes / 277
Works Cited / 313
Index / 337


viii














Prelude






"Have American philosophers and critics no home to go to," asks Denis
Donoghue, "no intellectual tradition of their own?" American critical
theory, when "bearing the names of Heidegger, Adorno, Benjamin, Fou-
cault, Derrida, de Man, Deleuze, Lyotard, Blanchot, and other daunt-
ing sages," derives from France or Germany,1 but it need not be so. My
homegrown critical method (distinct from theory, if theory means only
abstract contemplation or top-down imposition) derives from my Anglo-
American heritage, the broadly experiential common ground of empiricism
and evangelicalism. My religious as well as philosophical mode of criticism
is perhaps most appropriate for interpreting such mid-nineteenth-century
authors of British and American extraction as Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892), the Poet Laureate of England, and Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803-1881), the Sage of Concord. This diptych of Anglo-American let-
ters follows intrinsically Anglo-American, empirical-evangelical ways of
"fighting the good fight." While hardly blind to pain and sorrow, Tenny-
son and Emerson envision a better future through material "progress" and
the social gospel. (Hence they tend to be blind to industrial threats to
nature.) Their shared empirical-evangelical approach to experience leads
them to the philosophically theological, satisfyingly complex claim that
humankind unites with God in world and word and thus harmonizes with
the universe.
Norman Maclean, long-time professor of Romanticism at the University
of Chicago, concludes in A River Runs Through It and Other Stories (1976)
that the faith held in common by a Presbyterian minister and his remaining
son is: "You can love completely without complete understanding." 2 With-


ix





PRELUDE


out a more than partial understanding, however, faith gives way to forlorn
hope. "For Maclean," writes Ralph C. Wood, "life remains a mysterious 'it,'
a vast impersonal process wherein, as David Hume once said, 'man matters
no more than an oyster.'" But Maclean was "not content with this hard
creed." His "residual faith caused him subtly to modify" it, for "the doubt-
wracked life toughens true faith." Wood concludes that Maclean "spent his
career teaching a paradoxical truth not found in most books: that the intel-
lectual life is immensely important and yet supremely unimportant when
set beside the task of ordinary living." 3 This experiential balance finds its
binational counterpart in the empirical-evangelical, more Arminian than
Calvinist sensibility prevalent throughout the Anglo-American world from
at least 1750 to I850. The secular-sacred vision shared by Tennyson and
Emerson is just such a balance: it is more optimistic than pessimistic and
more Late Romantic than pre-Modernist, for it not only testifies to "the
substance of things hoped for [and] the evidence of things not seen" (see
Hebrews 11. i) but also explores the role of the physical senses in spiritual
experience.
My chosen diptych of Anglo-American letters reflects an optimism that
can make sense even for our world if we, like the laureate and the sage,
can focus on the moral relation between humankind and what the journal
Ultimate Reality and Meaning, with refreshing if bald intrepidity, calls "the
totality of existence."4 The search for "ultimate" reality and meaning, of
course, should cultivate "proximate" plays of skepticism. Nevertheless,
spatial models such as milieu, horizon, and context, temporal models such
as origin, cause, and the ultimate/final, and personal models such as God,
self, soul, and spirit can still form ways of knowing and believing. The de-
sires that people live by, regardless of whether they adumbrate the heaven
to which one might want to go, constitute "heaven" in the here and now,
for natural-spiritual experience is still conceivable.

I dedicate this book of my mellow years to our daughters, Jessica and
Justine. Pertinent to my dedicatory impulse are the concerns of my friend
and colleague Melvyn New. In Telling New Lies: Seven Essays in Fiction, Past
and Present (1992), New asks how parents and teachers are to "instruct
the next generation" if we have "spent all our truth" and how we are to
fulfill our own "need for belief" when "valid skepticism demonstrates the
lie in every human construct." Suggesting that "the loss of a providential





PRELUDE


god weighs heavily on the culture" in which we live, his diagnosis of cur-
rent ills-the loss of "the sense of presence in the course of secularizing
our societies" and the "ever-increasing need for and fear of union (sexual,
intellectual, emotional)"-is acute. Careful to stipulate that our "critical
act" is "a dance with truth" rather than a "march toward it," he argues
that twentieth-century criticism must distinguish "lies of art" from "lies of
power" in the same way that "an earlier time tried to distinguish the voice
in the whirlwind from the voice of the serpent." Finding in joy "another
name for Religion" (Nietzsche's phrase), New vows "never to surrender"
the moment of "faith" or "grace" in each "formulation of art." He upholds
the belief that "the moment of sufficient presence otherwise missing from
human life" is available through the particular joy of reading; Nietzsche,
after all, declares that "we negate and must negate because something in us
wants to live and affirm-something that we perhaps do not know or see
as yet-this is said in favor of criticism."5 The objective of my criticism,
for anyone interested in what we might pass on to the children, is to draw
out the truth and grace and joy of life as well as of art.
Having tried to acknowledge lies of power, art, and even faith, and
to tell the big difference between the lies of power and those of art, I
aspire, above all, to "snatch a grace beyond the reach" of art and criticism.6
My "believing" as well as "understanding" criticism, my "second naivete,"
forms my hermeneutic circle: "believe in order to understand; understand
in order to believe."7
To Jessica, Justine, and my students, Shelley's Adonais (1821) speaks out
loud and bold:

Clasp with thy panting soul the pendulous Earth;
As from a centre, dart thy spirit's light
Beyond all worlds, until its spacious might
Satiate the void circumference: then shrink
Even to a point within our day and night;
And keep thy heart light lest it make thee sink
When hope has kindled hope, and lured thee to the brink.
(stanza 42, lines 417-21)

This advice, written in reaction to the death of Keats at age twenty-five,
implies that while "the lie in every human construct" may be seductive,
the truth and grace and joy of life as well as of art retain resonance. To fol-


xi





PRELUDE


low Shelley's advice, I explore how his lesson of this- and otherworldliness
applies to the works of Tennyson and Emerson; I also ask whether the
lesson is yet worthy to be taught. Since it entails the recovery of at least
biological plenitude if not Providence, the compatibility between criticism
and affirmation may yet turn out to enhance knowledge as well as belief.
Then critical understanding will indeed not only thrive itself but also help
the next generation thrive.
Shelley's combination of this- and otherworldliness coalesces not only
philosophy with faith but also philosophical theology with literature.8
While I try to keep in view the range of critical perspectives from the four-
fold method of medieval exegesis to deconstructive aporia's suspension of
infinite meanings, I entertain unity among once closely allied philosophy,
religion, and literature, for only half-jokingly claiming e pluribus unum as
the motto of my British-American critical method, I recuperate the unitary
criterion for both the form and the content of Tennyson's and Emerson's
works and ideas. Recognizing that skepticism is itself belief, they reconcile
radical doubt with belief. While they do not exactly "define" the noume-
nal bases of human constructs, they sound them out. Thus they collapse
distinctions between the secular and the sacred.

I dedicate this book, moreover, to the memory of my brother Rabun Lee
Brantley, Jr., who died in an automobile accident during the spring of
his senior year at Washington and Lee University. The previous fall, on
September 30, 1955, the twenty-two-year-old English major had written
to me: "Reading everything you can get your hands on will be the most
valuable thing you can do toward getting a good education. It is important
to read more and more advanced books as it is easy to drift and follow
the paths of least resistance. The harder books will often contain the most
enjoyable reading." Then eleven, I was too young to understand what he
meant by "enjoyable." Even now, "enjoyable" might seem a light term
to describe such experiences as reading Tennyson's In Memoriam A. H. H.
(i850), written in reaction to the death at age twenty-two of Tennyson's
friend Arthur Henry Hallam, and Emerson's Experience (1844), written in
reaction to the death at age five of Emerson's son, Waldo. Such works lead
me back to the untimely death of one who had been in life a mystery of
experience and sophistication to a younger brother just beginning to grasp
the possibilities of the written word. But I believe Lee knew how art in-


xii





PRELUDE


structs: through the grace and even the pleasure of "thoughts that do often
lie too deep for tears."9
On February 24, 1956, his twenty-third birthday and my twelfth, Lee
had given me the novels of Sir Walter Scott, and this first introduction to
"serious" reading has become "the fascination of what's difficult." 10 The
book you hold fulfills the odyssey of reading foretold by one who died
even younger than Keats but who recognized, with Keats, that grave yet
emotionally rich works are "enjoyable." In "On Sitting Down to Read King
Lear Once Again" (1818), Keats announces that

once again, the fierce dispute
Betwixt damnation and impassioned clay
Must I burn through; once more humbly assay
The bittersweet of this Shakespearean fruit.
(lines 6-9)

Finally imploring Shakespeare, however, to "give me," "when I am con-
sumed in the fire" of King Lear, "new phoenix wings to fly at my desire"
(lines 13-14), Keats finds presence and mystery even in tragedy. Works by
Tennyson and Emerson contain divine comedy alongside emotionally rich
gravitas.
Reading, Lee knew, is not simply a matter of letting the words wash over
the mind; it rouses one to the good fight. Whenever either Jessica, now
twenty-three, or Justine, now fourteen, derives a "momentary stay against
confusion," 1 an earnest of truth, grace, and joy, from the act of reading,
she profits from Lee's precocious lesson of complexity and paradox. May
she then imagine him as the eternally young proto-teacher who leads us
to the joyful wisdom that reading contributes to living. One's close read-
ing, of course, does not customarily juxtapose such scattered bits of truth,
grace, and joy as these:

Worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie.'2
After the first death, there is no other.13
... gaiety transfiguring all that dread.'4

Nevertheless, even such odd associations lend meaning (if not structure)
to life, juxtaposing and sometimes even compounding life with art. The
"utmost ambition" of poetry, after all, is "to lodge a few poems where they
will be hard to get rid of," namely, in the memory,15 and wrestling with


xiii





PRELUDE


literary accounts of pain or sorrow yields genuine, albeit fragile, affirma-
tion of the joyful dread (or dreadful joy) of living. Let us once again burn
through Tennyson's and Emerson's "Fierce dispute / Betwixt damnation
and impassion'd clay" and assay their fruitful bittersweetness, for then we
may retain just what we need of their tragicomic vision, their combination
of understanding with faith.

The University of Florida Division of Sponsored Research supported this
project during the summer of 1992. At the 1993 meeting of the South-
eastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies at the University
of Alabama at Birmingham, I presented "The Empirical Procedures of
Tennyson's In Memoriam: The Eighteenth-Century Context." This paper
appears here in chapter 2 as "Empirical Procedures." I published "The
Evangelical Principles of Tennyson's In Memoriam" in English Romanticism:
Preludes and Postludes (East Lansing, Mich.: Colleagues, 1993). This article
appears here in chapter 3 as "Evangelical Principles." I thank the editor,
John A. Alford, for his permission to reprint it.
I am happy to acknowledge this book as a function of my membership in
the Department of English at the University of Florida. My indebtedness
to works by Ira Clark, Norman Holland, Brandon Kershner, David Lev-
erenz, David Locke, William Logan, Brian McCrea, Joan New, Melvyn
New, James Twitchell, and Gregory Ulmer is explicit. I also thank many in
the department and university whose works I did not happen to cite. Carl
Bredahl, Patricia Craddock, Alistair Duckworth, John Van Hook, Anne
Goodwyn Jones, John Leavey, John Perlette, Robert Ray, John Seelye, and
R. A. Shoaf come quickly to mind.
Since much of what and how I think, like much of who I am, derives less
from the evidence on which my formal arguments stand and less from the
logic of their assumptions than from people, I attempt to pass along what
I understand from the teaching model demonstrated by the late T. Walter
Herbert, who was Distinguished Service Professor of English at the Uni-
versity of Florida. Herbert's humanist tradition of open mind and warm
heart was relatively free of system. He never let me forget Keats's "Nega-
tive Capability," the state when one is "capable of being in uncertainties,
Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason."
I strive to impart to my students and even to inspire in them (as they
inspire in me) this awareness of value amidst multiple perspectives, con-


xiv





PRELUDE


sciousnesses, and cultures. The mutuality of teaching and learning can thus
combine the spirit of skeptical counterinterpretation with a sense of tradi-
tional presence. Since Herbert was more likely to expect truth, grace, and
joy than to suspect false consciousness (after the manner of Marx, Nietz-
sche, or Freud), the method that I share with him can now seem positively
innovative.
Because Diana Brantley's solutions to problems of procedure and prin-
ciple have toughened this text, her near influence is always telling. Harold
Bloom and Robert Detweiler read the complete manuscript with gener-
osity and in detail. Many excellent staff members at the University Press
of Florida have expertly facilitated its progress through to publication. I
extend particular thanks to Deidre Bryan, Judy Goffman, Enid Hicking-
botham, and Larry Leshan. Walda Metcalf, associate director and editor-
in-chief, offered me, once again, her customary mixture of astute profes-
sional guidance and hearty common sense. The good offices of these people
can help readers be either constructively skeptical about this volume or
enthusiastic about it-or both.


xv


















Theme and Variations






Mutually contradictory principles of knowing, according to Immanuel
Kant, are ultimately irreconcilable. However, according to G. W. F. Hegel,
they merge into a higher truth that supersedes them. The continuous
"unification" of empiricism and evangelicalism can produce a synthesis.
Although empiricism is "natural" and evangelicalism is "spiritual," the
great principle of empiricism, that one must see for oneself and be in the
presence of the thing one knows, applies as well to evangelical faith. Each
of these two methodologies operates along a continuum that joins emotion
to intellect; each code of experience joins externality to words through
"ideas/ideals of sensation," that is, through perception-cum-grace. While
empiricism refers to immediate contact with and direct impact from objects
and subjects in time and place, evangelicalism entertains the notions that
religious truth is concerned with experiential presuppositions and that ex-
perience need not be nonreligious. On the basis of the experiential common
denominator between empiricism and evangelicalism, through the "both/
and" logic of philosophical theology, I argue that Alfred, Lord Tenny-
son (1809-1892), the Poet Laureate of England, and Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803-1882), the Sage of Concord, theologize empiricism. They ground
transcendentalism in the world, balance religious myths and religious
morality with scientific reverence for fact and detail, and ally empirical
assumptions with "disciplined" spirit. Above all, they share the simulta-
neously rational and sensationalist reliance on experience as the avenue to
both natural and spiritual knowledge.
The empiricism and the evangelicalism of Anglo-American culture, like






THEME AND VARIATIONS


the responsively chanting, antiphonal voices in a divided chancel choir,
sometimes alternate; antiphony denotes, however, the accompaniment of
one voice by another in another octave. The "Agnus Dei" of Giuseppe
Verdi's Requiem (1874), for example, features a contralto who undergirds,
yet also hauntingly seconds, the floating line of the soprano. Similarly,
through the antiphonal, nonunisonary "unity" of resonant doubleness,
Anglo-American empiricism sometimes achieves simultaneity with Anglo-
American evangelicalism. Since the empirical-evangelical dialectic, if not
the empirical-evangelical synthesis, of the Anglo-American world pro-
duces harmony through an opposition of voices, the resulting accord is
not only more agreeable but also more complex than mere homophony or
univocity alone could be. This genetic trait of Anglo-American sensibility,
this generic component of Anglo-American relations, constitutes the inter-
disciplinary methodology to which Tennyson and Emerson self-consciously
(with irony), consciously, or unconsciously contribute. This book, besides
exploring the empirical-evangelical dialectic of the Anglo-American world,
sounds the empirical-evangelical antiphon of that world.
I seek, thereby, to establish a single, yet twofold, theme of Anglo-
American Romanticism. In Wordsworth's "Natural Methodism" (1975), I used
the theology of John Wesley (1703-91)-founder of British and Ameri-
can Methodism-to gloss Wordsworth's British Romanticism. Wesley's
evangelical versions of practical charity, reciprocal covenant with the Holy
Spirit, conversion, spiritual perfection, and the emblematic and typologi-
cal "reading" of the Book of Nature influenced not only Wordsworth's
themes but also his symbology, structure, tone, irony, characterizations,
and narrative patterns.'
In Locke, Wesley, and the Method of English Romanticism (1984), I used
Wesley's philosophical theology to gloss British Romanticism in general.
Wesley absorbed and spiritualized the empiricist epistemology of John
Locke (1632-I704) and then, through the complex process of cultural os-
mosis, passed on to William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor
Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and John Keats a method for both their
natural observation and their "spiritual experience. "2
In "The Common Ground of Wesley and Edwards" (I99o), I sought to
show how Wesley and Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), leader of the Great
Awakening in America, are even more similarly empirical than similarly






THEME AND VARIATIONS


evangelical. Far from just validating spiritual insights by borrowing from
sense-language, Arminian Wesley and Calvinist Edwards speak literally to
experience in general, including empirical observation, scientific method,
and apprehension of God in nature and the Spirit.3 Thus their shared
methodology, harking back to the epistemology of Locke, not only links
sense to reason and matter to mind but, more importantly, aligns nature
with grace.
In Coordinates of Anglo-American Romanticism: Wesley, Edwards, Carlyle,
and Emerson (1993), I explored how Wesley and Edwards provide an inter-
disciplinary framework for interpreting a premier Anglo-American pairing
of Late Romantic writers. The creative tension between empiricism and
evangelicalism-the sparks that fly from coordinates on the arc-illumi-
nates the noble, yet neglected, Anglo-American sensibility represented
especially well by the mutual, cross-pollinating prose works of Thomas
Carlyle (1795-1881), the Sage of Chelsea, and Emerson.4
Now I will describe another ample arc of Anglo-American Romanti-
cism, for I will interpret especially notable nineteenth-century poetry as
well as prose against the background of similarly notable (because simi-
larly nuanced and even pre-Romantic) prose of the eighteenth century,
namely, the "empirical" methodology developed in tandem by Wesley and
Edwards. The Lockean basis of their evangelical faith heralds the broadly
experiential (empirical-evangelical) vision shared by Tennyson's In Memo-
riam A. H. H. (I85o) and the prose of Emerson's prime (1836-52), so that
the Late but not belated Romanticism shared by Tennyson and Emerson,
like that same Romanticism shared by Carlyle and Emerson, is an Anglo-
American dialectic of desire for and trust in experience as the best means
of knowing what is true, whether naturally or supernaturally.
The prologue to In Memoriam, the especially auspicious beginning to
Tennyson's commemorative verses on Arthur Henry Hallam, conceives of
experience as both "natural" and "spiritual"; the elegist, indeed, conflates
empiricism with Christ-centered faith ("thee" refers to Christ):

We have but faith: we cannot know,
For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.





THEME AND VARIATIONS


Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,

But vaster.
(lines 21-29)5

Insofar as "it" (lines 23, 24) refers at once to "knowledge" (line 22) and
to "faith" (line 21), empirical philosophy and experiential faith can seem
to form an identity; the "things we see" (line 22), after all, can seem just
as much the gift of God as faith itself. "Faith," therefore, while differ-
ing markedly from the "things we see," can seem dialectically involved
with sense experience. Moreover, both "knowledge" (line 25) and "rever-
ence" (line 26) appear to increase-for later can seem better-and in their
interaction with one another, as well as in their joint interaction with and
combined effect on the world, "mind" and "soul" (line 27) also seem in-
creasingly one. This "identity" of the prologue, this natural-spiritual scope,
is potentially more resonant, if not potentially more capacious, than old
cosmologies. The quintessential poem of Victorian Zeitgeist emerges as the
new, the philosophically and theologically current, Divina Commedia, for
like the natural-cum-spiritual paradigm that Tennyson announces at the
outset, the dual methodology or synthesis/antiphony of In Memoriam is
precisely its continuous formation of an empirical-evangelical congruency
on the hardly just contingent (the more ordained than contingent) ground
of experience.
Coordinates of Anglo-American Romanticism, by focusing on the empirical-
evangelical dialectic of Emerson's Nature (1836), argues that Nature "not
only arrays idealistic philosophies alongside material ones but also draws
sympathetically on the Christian-moral interpretation of life." 6 Thus, while
highlighting "the pure empiricism of Nature's materialist perspective," I
also drew out "the specifically evangelical quality of its Christian-moral
view," and I concluded that Nature, "more than exclusively idealistic, if
not sometimes almost Christian," employs "empirical-evangelical strategies
within its actual-ideal language." I now assert that Emerson's monograph
puts forward a unique set of insights on which he bases the ingenious
but cohesive variations of his subsequent career, for I now specifically
argue that his empirical-evangelical imagination, his unity of opposing





THEME AND VARIATIONS


perspectives, underlies seven of his other frequently anthologized works,
namely, The American Scholar (1837), The Divinity School Address (1838), Self-
Reliance (1841), The Over-Soul (1841), The Poet (1844), Experience (1844),
and Fate (1852). On the empirical end of his scale of criteria are the
physical senses, the sense-based reason, the awakened consciousness, the
understanding, radical skepticism, inductive method, subject-object inter-
action, and "nature-culture coevolution." (I adapt for my purposes the
"gene-culture coevolution" of E. 0. Wilson.)7 On the evangelical end of his
scale are personal conversion, immediate as well as traditional revelation,
the religious affections, practical charity, moral action, the goal of spiri-
tual perfection, and millennial expectation. His intensely methodological
doctrine of the "spiritual sense," while employing Berkeleyan immateri-
alism or the proportional analogy between sense, perception, and ideas,
and ideas in the mind of God, emphasizes the physical senses as atten-
dants on or preconditions for faith, as though natural experience becomes,
or combines with, spiritual experience; this doctrine bridges Emerson's
natural/spiritual kinds of experiential grounding. He does not so much
mix as unify epistemology and religious methodology, for what seems his
violent yoking together of disparate themes is his experientially generated
continuum that joins scientific method and rational empiricism to natural
and revealed religion. His hope for prosperity, justice, serenity, and joy,
accordingly, is at once natural and spiritual.
Thus the laureate and the sage represent not simply their national lit-
eratures, respectively, but Anglo-American literature as well. In an age of
what Paul Ricoeur calls "the hermeneutics of suspicion" 8 or what might
be called the latter-day Marxist-Nietzschean-Freudian academic enterprise
of detecting false consciousness, I find that the empirical-evangelical dia-
lectic of Anglo-American sensibility holds to the moment-by-moment (or
at least momentary) efficacy of a consciousness more trustworthy than illu-
sory, more true than false. The Anglo-American sensibility that underlies
the main poem of Tennyson's midcareer and the prose of Emerson's prime
reflects not only the anxiety but also the mutuality of influence. With
more awareness of worldview than of those who create worldviews and
hence with no blooming "anxiety of influence," 9 Tennyson and Emerson are
nonetheless descended from the intellectual as well as charismatic Anglo-
American diumvirate of Wesley and Edwards. In Memoriam is similar to
the essays not so much because Tennyson influences Emerson as because




THEME AND VARIATIONS


this poem and these essays receive empirical-evangelical cross-pollinations
on both sides of and in both directions across the Atlantic. If Lockean
elements common to the theologies of Wesley and Edwards illuminate cer-
tain key resemblances between the literatures of England and the United
States during the early modern era, this phenomenon emerges not just be-
cause Tennyson and Emerson richly reflect an Anglo-American heritage of
philosophical theology but also because that heritage itself is rich.

Insofar as Berkeley, Kant, Cassirer, and Gombrich all said that there is no
substance as substrate, no pure given, no absolute immediacy, no inno-
cent eye, and no perception without conception,10 empirical-evangelical
ideas may seem exclusively cross-cultural, rather than at all self-evident
or universally true. Not even modern science enjoys any special privilege,
according to Nelson Goodman, who argues, "contrary to common sense,"
that there is no unique, real world that preexistss and is independent of"
human mental activity and human symbolic language." In the perennial
debate between common sense and philosophy, Jerome Bruner and Carol
Fleisher Feldman come down squarely on the side of Goodman, for they
conclude that "we are never in contact with some sort of aboriginal reality
independent of our own minds or the minds of others who preceded us."
According to them, the "intellectual vigor" of modern physics is "precisely
its sensitivity in choosing appropriate theoretical descriptions to interpret
particular observations" (my italics).12 Even neo-empiricist philosopher of
language W. V. Quine grants to Goodman that since "physical theory" is
"ninety-nine parts conceptualization to one part observation," nature is a
"poor candidate" for the "real" world.13 Goodman's preaching to the con-
verted, however, courts at least enough opposition to ask "Is not 'belief
is all' a belief?" Those steeped in the virulent, if now cliche-ridden, anti-
mimeticism that dates back at least to Roland Barthes's S/Z (1970)14 may
need to realize that a belief in realism, if not mind-independent reality
itself, underlies recent experiments not only in science and mathematics
but also in theology, literature, and literary criticism. By briefly rehears-
ing such experiments, I further introduce my full argument concerning
Tennyson and Emerson; I also further clarify and further make explicit my
assumptions concerning such philosophical, religious, and literary issues as
scientific rhetoric, representation, the pure given, expression, artful versus
artless "art," language as the real, the real in language, and, clearly not
least, the language of the real.




THEME AND VARIATIONS


I generally concur, in so doing, with the "reference criticism" of Edouard
Morot-Sir. Conceiving of all scientific, religious, moral, and artistic value
judgments as positive or negative reference, his work takes the side of
modern realists against such idealists as Bergson, Heidegger, Chomsky,
and Rorty. Morot-Sir grants priority to reference as the act by which signs
make sense and by which they exist. "Any linguistic expression," he writes,
"belongs to the experience of reference" (my italics).'5 While he assumes
that reference is the center of human cultural existence, I assume that it is
also the center of human natural/biological existence, for my assumptions
enforce such belief beyond belief as that philosophical, religious, and lit-
erary experiences are grounded in and refer to natural (as well as spiritual)
existences beyond culture.
My view that empirical if not evangelical ideas are not just cultural
or cross-cultural but even derive, if not from the self-evident and true,
then from the evident and perceivable, may be further clarified by a brief
overview of the recent, magisterial work by David Locke. Addressing
himself to "the problematic of representation," "writing without expres-
sion," "the rhetoric of science," "the art of artless prose," "the putative
purity of science," and "writing as reality," Locke maintains that science
is "not some privileged verbal shorthand that conveys a pure and unvar-
nished scientific truth" but writing that must be read. Nothing in the
"literary critical armamentarium," he observes, is to be "ruled off-limits"
in the study of scientific texts. Representation theory, expression theory,
evocation theory, art-object theory, artifact theory (social milieu), and in-
strumentality theory (signifying systems) are all as applicable to scientific
texts as to literary ones. Scientists, historians, philosophers of science, and
literary scholars must realize, if they have not already done so, that science
is not "the empty vessel into which the content of... scientific thought is
poured" but "patterns of signs" and "intricate interpenetrating laceworks
of codes." "The day of the overarching framework, the prepared ground,
the universally acknowledged basis for argument," Locke carefully states,
"seems, at least for now, to be behind us," and he adds that "lacking a
grand synthesis, one must aim for discrete (and discreet) analysis." 16
Thus Science as Writing contributes at once to the theory of science and
to the theory of literature. Locke points to the crucial connection between
authorial voice and experimental method and results. He observes that the
very artlessness of scientific writing requires great skill. Neither mystical
nor antiscientific, he is as much at home with Derrida as with Darwin,





THEME AND VARIATIONS


Watson, Crick, Einstein, or Galileo, but Locke does not simply argue that
scientific writing is a linguistic or cultural construct. He asks whether
scientific language is as "cultural" as literary language and whether it is
fictional, narrative, and polysemous. However, he concludes that just as
science can be personal without losing any of its importance as knowledge
beyond language, so scientific writing can be rhetorical, that is, differ-
ent from science itself, without losing any of its accessibility to scientific
knowledge. Perhaps the most intriguing question Locke raises is, "Does
scientific discourse, in any sense, constitute the reality scientists investigate
in their work?" Scientific arguments, he answers, are properly conceived of
as "newly emerging entities that generate their own context, create their
own space as they unfold, just as, Einstein says, the masses of the universe
generate their own special matrix by virtue of their existence."
Scientists now making similarly objectivist claims appear to think, de-
spite such arguments as those of Goodman and Derrida, that while neither
culturally nor naturally predetermined, things are as much naturally as
culturally determined. Gerald Edelman's theory of "neural Darwinism,"
first published in 1978, holds that the meaning of any particular pattern
of activity in the brain is "determined by the immediate environmental
setting of the organism and the selection of particular circuits over others at
any one time." The biological mechanisms of brain- or nerve-mapping cre-
ates generalizations constantly "'revised' or updated by new experiences"
so that "new ways of behaving" do not rely exclusively on "the precision of
innate rules or programs." 17 Thus nature is "always already" in the affair of
culture. Edelman's scientific version of absolute immediacy is matched by
Ronald de Sousa's scientifically based argument that such limbic emotions
as fear, love, and hate perform a decidedly precultural function in their
precise determination of perception, recognition, and recollection.18 The
arch-adaptationist views of E. 0. Wilson and Richard Dawkins, though
controversial in the field of evolutionary biology, have by no means been
rejected; despite Stephen Jay Gould's opposition to the view that not
just human intelligence but social organization and the control of nature
are "inevitable consequences of long-term natural selection forces," R. C.
Lewontin, for one, is by no means entirely certain that such forces do not
in fact govern a continuum that indissolubly joins nature to culture and
vice versa.19
Stephen Toulmin, attacking scientific foundationalism, argues that the





THEME AND VARIATIONS


Cartesian "quest for certainty" and its "accompanying deification of reason"
have betrayed us into "overreaching ourselves"; Toulmin elevates Mon-
taigne's acceptance of "ambiguous surfaces" over Descartes's attempt to
dispel ambiguity. Toulmin's "way forward" is the reappropriation of Mon-
taigne's "more modest, skeptical, and tolerant outlook," for Toulmin ex-
pects that a subtler, more supple science will play the "game" of "influence,
not force," and his notion of influence as both salutary and surprising, both
concrete and unpredictable, informs my conviction that the evangelical as
well as empirical near-influence on Tennyson and Emerson is both telling
and just as subtle as Toulmin might wish it to be.20
Another, still bolder "way forward," however, is through Hans Moravec's
vision that in the coming "post-biological" age we will not only download
our minds into computers and so achieve immortality, but also retrieve
minds already dead and thus have to count the cost of never losing any-
thing. "In the present condition," Moravec concludes, "we are uncomfort-
able halfbreeds, part biology, part culture, with many of our biological
traits out of step with the invention of our minds." 21 But he is as far as
possible from denying the nature-culture continuum that I assume exists.
He envisions a nature become culture, and rather than either lamenting or
gloating over "the end of nature," 22 Moravec defines the coming culture as
new nature.
The view recently developed by Wilson Coker and Peter Kivy, that
music is representational, has been out of fashion since at least the late
eighteenth century, if not before,23 but their view finds recent counter-
parts in the various flirtations with a quite un-Cartesian (because more
objective than subjective) view of mathematics, namely, that math is "out
there" rather than solely "of the mind." Michael Guillen, observing that
the history of so-called "self-contained" mathematics is actually an "unruly
gate-crashing," points out that the Pythagoreans resented the intrusion of
irrational pi, and that although the imaginary numbers of sixteenth- and
seventeenth-century mathematics predicted Einstein's universe, they met
with universal disdain at the time.24 According to Guillen, irrational pi
and imaginary numbers can and should be thought of as looming up from
without. Keith Devlin, after pointing out that it took several thousand
hours for a computer at Concordia University, Montreal, to answer "no" to
the question whether a finite projective plane of order- Io exists, concludes
that mathematics is rapidly turning into an empirical science where "results




THEME AND VARIATIONS


are only probable to varying degrees," and where proofs are becoming too
lengthy and complex for the human mind to "see" their validity.25 It is hard,
accordingly, for Martin Gardner "to comprehend how mathematicians who
pretend that mathematical structure is not 'out there,' independent of
human minds, can view successive enlargements of the [Mandelbrot-set]
and preserve their cultural solipsism." 26
Religion, etymologically, ties together once more, rebridges the realms
of dream and experience, and so figures, perhaps even more prominently
than empiricism does, in my neo-mimetic, neo-realist peregrinations.
"Religious experience," in Wayne Proudfoot's view, while "furtive" and
"embroidered" according to "prior conceptual commitments," remains a
"lived" construct.27 Something of this "lived" quality comes across in
John J. McDermott's religious-experiential, neo-William Jamesian notion
of life as a journey made by transients: "The meaning of a transient's jour-
ney is precisely that: the journey itself. ... We should make our journey
ever alert to our surroundings and to every perceivable sensorial nuance.
Our journey is a kaleidoscope of alternating experiences, mishap, setback,
celebrations, and eye-openers, all undergone on the qui vive."28 D. G.
Leahy, in what Thomas J. J. Altizer grandly refers to as a neo-Edwardsean
experiential understanding, speaks of "the material fulfillment prescinding
the matter/form distinction in the form of unreserved anticipation." 29 By
way of thus proclaiming the "death" of the Death of God, Leahy concludes
that "Time" is for the first time "absolutely the place": "The temporality
of time is The Place which we, embodying, intimately comprehend as the
pure 'at the disposal of another.' Qui vive? The person who begins to fabri-
cate an essentially new world." Leahy's vocabulary, to say the least, is boldly
if not refreshingly essentialist/foundationalist.
Neither scientific-mathematical research nor academic theology, then,
is anywhere near abandoning the inexpugnablee realism" that may indeed
be "real" enough, as A. 0. Lovejoy claimed, to define human nature.30
Edelman, de Sousa, Wilson, Dawkins, Lewontin, Toulmin, and Moravec
on the scientific side, and McDermott, Altizer, and Leahy on the religious
side, resist (when one takes them all together) what Stephen Prickett (as
though he takes both sides at once) calls "the reductiveness of our mod-
ern categories [of theology and science]."31 Although both categories often
insist that experience is "either miraculous or natural," Prickett advances
his biblical as well as Romantic view of experience as both miraculous and
natural. The Bible, he argues (contra Robert Alter and Northrop Frye), is


IO




THEME AND VARIATIONS


realistic fiction and history, and not just realistic fiction. I would add that
Romantic experience, as it is represented by Tennyson and Emerson, is
both natural and miraculous because it is both empirical and evangelical.
Consider, accordingly, the third side of my equilateral triangle: litera-
ture. The "disengaged, if not sterile" stances of Borges, Nabokov, and
Calvino, and their "dry cerebral fondness" for ideas, may well be compre-
hended according to the presuppositions of continuing, if only residual,
Cartesian mathematics, but Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics and Mr. Palomar,
at least, include the experiential-realistic in what only seems the mathe-
matically separate and ideal.32 Moreover, Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel
Dennett relate the seemingly dry, seemingly almost mathematical frame of
the Modernist/Postmodernist mind to ideas we actually "live by or need
to live by"; Hofstadter and Dennett recognize that Calvino, despite his
apparently ascetic formalism, not only shows what it means to "share a
universe" with dinosaurs and volcanoes, but also "clarifies the features of
modern life."33
Patrick Suskind's Perfume and The Pigeon find "freshness of angle" not
in "susceptibility to fabulation" but in the "fresh territory" of "the micro-
scopic"; Emmanuel Carrere's The Moustache focuses simply on cutting a
moustache off; and a new edition of Raymond Queneau's Pierrot mon ami
makes nothing happen except what John Updike calls the novel's now
especially fashionable but still experience-oriented, "banality and cheerful
nullity of experience." 34 Updike distinguishes between this French fiction
(Carreire, Queneau) with its "mental states" and "life of the mind" and
this German fiction (Suskind) with its "microscopic observation," but each
of these novels suggests that any given culture refers to something extra-
cultural. Thus recent novels of even the non-Anglo-American world may
be said to flaunt once more a realism so microscopic, yet robust, as to be
precisely empirical.
The Mezzanine by the American Nicholson Baker preserves, perhaps less
unexpectedly, a "core of jubilation" in the "closely observed" worlds of the
hero's lunch break, his purchase of shoelaces, and his escalator ride back to
work.35 This novel, in which Baker revives a sense of experience as almost
preverbal, is deservedly highly touted.36 A single thought that comes to
the hero "all at once" and "at the foot of the up escalator" is "only the latest
in a fairly long sequence" of "inarticulable experiences" so palpably real as
to be worthy of his every effort at their articulation.
American poetry is especially well represented for my purposes by the


II





THEME AND VARIATIONS


example of William Logan. To be sure, sometimes even critics otherwise
admiring of Logan's poetry raise objections similar to those of Dennett and
Hofstadter to the works of Calvino, Nabokov, and Borges; G. E. Murray,
for example, complains that everything in Logan's poetry "is seen and felt
from a distance: experience, location, imagination, even intimacies. It is as
if emotion is traded for elegance of style and expression." 37 Thomas Swiss,
observing that Logan's too "formally detached" and too "coolly elegant"
poems sometimes read more like "literature," adds that their "impene-
trable" syntax and "formal" diction sometimes make them hide from "even
the most patient reader." All this, however, is a direction in which one
might well want to err; the objections to Logan's work redound, finally,
to his credit. Although Richard Tillinghast notes that Logan's "urge to
conceal" wins out over his "desire to reveal or communicate," Tillinghast
concludes that this is as it should be, "since concealment provides mys-
tery and compels fascination," and since concealment is often "the only
way to be true to recalcitrant or complex material." Even Murray praises
Logan for his "terse and tense structures . attempting to comprehend
complex physical and emotional interweavings of events, place, and per-
son." Despite his youth, then, Logan's reputation is secure. (In 1989 he
received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of
American Poets.)
Thomas Swiss's praise of Logan's ability to "move from a striking obser-
vation into a poem of wisdom and great feeling" is especially pertinent to
my interest in the ideally if not evangelically empirical dimension of Anglo-
American literature, for the poems of Logan's fourth volume, Vain Em-
pires (1994), approach being both "empirical" and immediately revelatory.
"Histoires des Mentalite" proceeds from precise observation to startling
revelation:

Our milk-white daughters dance like social pawns,
or prawns, in the grand ballroom of the seabed
where hammerheaded males requite the last faux pas.
There's no escape from sensibility.38

"The Shadow-Line," at once lapidary and pellucid, is especially pointed:

We used to spend summer nights listening to jazz-
rude subtleties of the horn! Now we discuss


12





THEME AND VARIATIONS


surrendering to what will happen to us,
or ought to, or perhaps already has.

"Florida Pest Control," celebrating Logan's arrival in Florida, encapsulates
his secure combination of clarity and surprise:

The houses turn to dust
Beneath us, gnawed by termite,
beetle, or the fear of God.
Only the last can't be exterminated.

This, if not "evangelical," is certainly tough-minded, empirical.
Logan's insights into the poetry of W. D. Snodgrass are especially
shrewd (Logan received from the National Book Critics Circle the 1988
Citation for Excellence in Reviewing) and are especially pertinent to my
view of Tennyson and Emerson. Hear, first, these lines from Snodgrass's
"Song":

Observe the cautious toadstools
still on the lawn today
though they grow over-evening;
sun shrinks them away.

Pale and proper and rootless,
they righteously extort
their living from the living.
I have been their sort.

Logan speaks of "two movements" in Snodgrass's poetry, first "from igno-
rance outward to knowledge and experience," and second "from observa-
tion inward to revelation."39 This insight constitutes a small essay on and
a felicitous axiom regarding Snodgrass's combination of the physical and
the moral senses. Logan's axiom is apt, too, for the empirical-evangelical
progressions/syntheses that I will trace in works by Tennyson and Emerson.
Samuel F. Pickering, Jr.'s scholarly criticism of Anglo-American chil-
dren's books both reflects his belief in realism and sharply parallels my
representationalist-referentialist assumptions concerning and my empirical-
evangelical approach to Romanticism. His Moral Instruction and Fiction
for Children, I749-1820 (1993) assumes "the importance and presence of
Locke," for Pickering reads early children's fiction "almost as educational


13





THEME AND VARIATIONS


texts." "In eighteenth-century children's books," he observes, "education
determined the progress children made, and success was not a reward for
virtue but for a good education of which virtue was simply an important
part." Thus George Burder's Early Piety (18o6) combines the serious, Bun-
yanesque allegory of the evangelicals with the Lockean appeal to children's
delight in change and variety. In early children's fiction it is better to be
poor or in a large family than rich or an only child, and Pickering thinks
that this emphasis is due to the writers' Lockean conviction that an inaus-
picious beginning drives home the advantages or necessity of education.
Richard Johnson, in The Foundling; or, The History of Lucius Stanhope (I798),
translates the spirit of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones into the educational mood
of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, for such foundlings
as Henry in Henry; or, The Foundling (18oi01) become truly noble by being
forced to make their way. "Stories which turned loss into gain," Pickering
concludes, "can be seen as secularized versions of those evangelical or godly
books which celebrated the pious deaths of righteous children." 40
Despite the evangelical ambivalence about novels, a 1768 children's ver-
sion of Samuel Richardson's Pamela was very popular. "Pamela," Pickering's
chapter five, explores this popularity. Pamela is a middle-class girl who
gives her middle-class values to the aristocratic Mr. B., who, in turn,
gives a copy of "Mr. Locke's Treatise on Education" to Pamela after the
birth of their son, Billy. Perhaps the most famous of the Pamela figures
is Little Goody Two-Shoes, the title of whose story-The History of Little
Goody Two-Shoes: With the Means by Which she acquired her Learning and Wis-
dom, and in consequence thereof her Estate-reflects the self-making, Lockean
assumptions that underlie her experience. The evangelical Hannah More la-
mented the fact that too many females tried to imitate the aristocracy, and
Pamela, More thought, provided evangelical women with both a model
and an antidote. Although Miss Johnson, in The Mother's Gift (1787), is
not explicitly indebted to Pamela, she, like Pamela, is protected by a com-
bination of early education and religion. Like Pamela, too, Miss Johnson
finally captivates "a lover, who was less charmed with her person than en-
slaved by her mind." There are even parallels between Pamela and "godly
books in which children saved adults," for example, The Infant Preacher
(1818) and The Young Cottager (1815), for such divine children find a secular
counterpart in Pamela's saving of Mr. B.
Locke, while giving doctrinaire religion short shrift, taught practical


I4





THEME AND VARIATIONS


morality in general and honesty in particular; similarly, early children's
books emphasized truthfulness, for example, Martin and James; or, The Re-
ward of Integrity (1794) or The Entertaining History of Honest Peter (I794).
Thus educational progress and moral growth or what one of the stories
called "A Knowledge of Letters" and "Virtue" usually went hand in hand.
As far back as Dante's Inferno, lying was the worst of sins, but the combina-
tion of truthfulness with education was a peculiarly Lockean and hence-
in Pickering's view-a peculiarly eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century
idea for children. "Telling the truth," Pickering concludes, matches "the
sturdy individualism that an education based upon Locke seemed to prom-
ise." Thus evangelical editions of Lord Chesterfield's letters to his son form
an especially interesting focus of Moral Instruction and Fiction for Children.
"Servants and Inferiors," Pickering's chapter six, explores the implica-
tions of Locke's teaching that the child who treats servants poorly is prob-
ably, and properly, destined to unhappiness, failure, and an early death.
This teaching is especially prevalent throughout The History of Tommy Play-
love andJacky Lovebook (1793). With particular reference to Negro servants,
the evangelical Mrs. Pilkington in her antislavery fiction, A Rewardfor At-
tentive Studies; or, Moral and Entertaining Stories (I8oo), boldly updates the
teaching. (A Rewardfor Attentive Studies anticipates Uncle Tom's Cabin by the
evangelical Harriet Beecher Stowe.) Perhaps the best book on servants and
inferiors is The Servant's Friend (1787) by the evangelical Sarah Trimmer.
John Newbery, in his introductions to and advertisements of children's
books, quotes Locke as an authority on children; accordingly, in Newbery's
The Easter-Gift; or, The Way to be Very Good (1770), he specifically incorpo-
rates Locke's suggestions concerning esteem and grace and especially seeks
to teach children good behavior toward servants.
An especially empirical-evangelical theme of Pickering's book is his ap-
plication of the Lockean-educational context to the ongoing tradition of
Christian emblems. The relatively cautious nature of emblem-writing is
explicitly, persuasively linked to Locke's doctrine of the tabula rasa, for
Appendix A shows how such emblems as the shipwreck, the fight, the
garden, the maze, the mirror, and the telescope develop educational as
well as moral lessons in early children's fiction.
As for empirical-evangelical applications of Pickering's study to Roman-
ticism, I suspect that Hamlain; or, the Hermit of the Beach (1799) pertains
to the didacticism, as well as to the exoticism, of Coleridge's Rime of the


I5




THEME AND VARIATIONS


Ancient Mariner. "If education is a school to fit us for life," writes Hannah
More, then life is "a school to fit us for eternity," and one thinks in this
connection of Keats's letter on life as a "Vale of Soul-making." According
to Jane West, little girls, never members of Parliament, are "legislators in
the most important sense of the word," and there are similarly expansive,
perhaps even similarly gender-related implications in the definition by the
early male feminist (as well as the Romantic poet) Percy Shelley of poets
as "unacknowledged legislators of the world." The miraculously nonmor-
bid lightness of little Elizabeth Villiers's sense of her mother's continuing
presence in the letters on her mother's tombstone (see Charles and Mary
Lamb's Mrs. Leicester's School) match the naturalness with which the girl
in Wordsworth's "We Are Seven" continues to "play" with her brother and
sister on their tombstones. And finally, just as Pamela saves Mr. B., and
just as the divine child in The Infant Preacher saves adults, so Madeline,
in Keats's "The Eve of St. Agnes," effects the curiously secular/religious
conversion of Porphyro, "a famished pilgrim-saved by miracle" (line 339).
Early children's literature, in short, emerges as an important, empirical-
evangelical gloss on British Romantic poetry. If the wisdom of the heart
is represented by Wordsworth, Blake, and Dickens, and if the wisdom of
the head is represented by Sarah Trimmer and Hannah More, Pickering
makes no such simple classification. He finds imagination in stories that
warn of the dangers of imagination. He counters critics who "celebrate the
imagination" in texts that are "not nearly so imaginative" as works by the
Trimmers and Mores. He concludes, with refreshing panache, that their
wandering plots and marvelously drawn worlds appeal to the imagination
more than does the exoticism of the fairy tale, which, after all, may "puzzle
and bore rather than awaken."
Pickering aptly calls his book "a covert celebration of imaginative in-
struction." And, indeed, imaginative instruction may be a fair shorthand
way of labeling Anglo-American Romanticism as it is empirically evangeli-
cally understandable. My understanding of that Romanticism, at any rate,
like Pickering's deep understanding of children's books, assumes the fruit-
ful coexistence of an extensive body of objective truth with the mind-soul.
We have had ample study of Locke's political importance, for example, Jay
Fliegelman's Prodigals and Pilgrims (1982), which explores the implications
of Locke's Two Treatises on Government (1690o) for the growing antiauthori-
tarianism in eighteenth-century England and America.41 My own Locke,
Wesley, and the Method of English Romanticism explores the implications of


i6




THEME AND VARIATIONS


Locke's epistemology in An Essay concerning Human Understanding (1690),
for religious as well as intellectual and literary history. Pickering's Moral In-
struction and Fictionfor Children, I749-1820 is perhaps the single best source
for the literary and general importance of Locke's Some Thoughts concerning
Education (1693). In combination with Pickering'sJohn Locke and Children's
Books in Eighteenth-Century England (I98I),42 Moral Instruction and Fiction
for Children suggests very powerfully that finding the ideas of Locke on
many pages of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century literature-
adult's as well as children's-does not exclude but signals the discovery of
evangelical religion on those same pages.
Pickering rightly views a line from Wordsworth's "My Heart Leaps Up"
(I807)-"The Child is Father of the Man"-as the quintessential poetic
version of Locke's doctrine of the tabula rasa. Thus Pickering's emphasis is
more Lockean than evangelical. My own view of this line is that it is the
quintessential poetic version of the empirical-evangelical rise and progress
of the soul. The Lockean-evangelical origin of Anglo-American children's
literature prepares for and matures into the empirical-evangelical vision of
Anglo-American Romanticism.
In my stance as an intellectual-historian/critic I not only admit to the
inexpugnablee realism" that A. 0. Lovejoy finds in each human being but,
in line with the least that one should learn from the various Postmodern-
ist "gurus of franglais, '43 I play with that realism to the point of being
serio-ludic. To the extent that my readings of Tennyson and Emerson are
plausible, however, there may well be, with apologies to Berkeley, Kant,
Cassirer, and Gombrich, a substance as substrate, an innocent eye, an abso-
lute immediacy, a pure given, and a perception before both conception
and words.
Language, indeed, though hardly completely derivative from the ex-
ternal world, may be more dependent on experience than innately de-
termined. Russ Rymer, in his state of the art discussion of the nature-
nurture question as it bears on the development of language in individuals,
ranges over the linguistic views of Descartes, Locke, Condillac, Chomsky,
Catherine Snow, and Lila Gleitman, and concludes with special reference to
Victor the Wild Boy of Aveyron and Genie the Closet Girl of Los Angeles
by stating that

the organization of our brain is as genetically ordained and as auto-
matic as breathing, but, like breathing, it is initiated by the slap of


17





THEME AND VARIATIONS


a midwife, and the midwife is grammar. . Language is a logic
system so organically tuned to the mechanism of the human brain
that it actually triggers the brain's growth. What are human beings?
Beings whose brain development is responsive to and dependent on
the receipt at the proper time of even a small sample of language.44

Neo-empiricist Quine understands rationalist-linguist Chomsky thus:
"Chomsky, for his part, argues that we are born with genetically de-
termined 'mental organs,' among them one specialized in language that
contains specific 'rule systems' that cannot be derived from the data of ex-
perience by 'induction,' 'abstraction,' 'analogy,' or 'generalization,' in any
reasonable sense of these terms, any more than the basic structure of the
mammalian visual system is inductively derived from experience." Quine
answers that "a child initially learns sentences such as 'It's raining' and
'This is red' by conditioning, unaided by auxiliary sentences, and then
achieves higher levels of linguistic competence by analogies (from the ap-
parent role of a word in one sentence he guesses its role in another) and
by noting how sentences are related to each other (he discovers that people
assent to a sentence of some one form only contingently upon assenting to a
corresponding sentence of some related form)." 45 "Cut the pie any way you
like," declares mathematician Hilary Putnam, "and meanings just ain't
in the head!" 46 Words may not be so much "of the mind" as locally and
flexibly of the brain.
Biologist Gerald Edelman, albeit without addressing the issue of lan-
guage, implies that there is topologically biological cause for belief in the
near influence of nature or body on culture or mind: "The present loca-
tion of a cell and its present activity provide most of the information on
what it is to do next. It is this contingency on position that makes bi-
ology into 'topobiology.' Biologist R. C. Lewontin elaborates: Edelman's
"strategy is to push the notion of local positional information to its ex-
treme by supposing that essentially all the action is at the level of small
collectives of cells acting as a group on their immediate neighbors. There
are no ... large-scale fields in which the cells are moving. Central planning
has been replaced by local initiatives in a kind of perestroika of the proto-
plasm."47 Similarly, within the "organism" that I call "eighteenth- and
nineteenth-century Anglo-American sensibility" is the good possibility
of a near, an empirical-evangelical, influence that proceeds from natural-


i8





THEME AND VARIATIONS


cultural worlds-through the meanings of words-to words themselves
and their resonant effects.
Words, so defended, are potentially salutary, because sufficiently
grounded. Vaclav Havel's words-regardless of whether and how much
events can lead to words-preceded events, but Havel knows that words
determine events for ill as well as good, for his especially striking em-
phasis on ominous implications within "in the beginning was the word"
recognizes that while "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" brought about the
halcyon early days of the French Revolution, the slogan preceded the only
"freedom" remaining by the mid-I79os, namely, whether to wear an open
or a closed shirt at one's own guillotining.48 Slogan words, despite all the
optimism that socialism had, have come to be used as blunt instruments
against enemies of the state, and Havel realizes that an ominous ambiguity
hovered over even perestroika. According to Melvyn New, the reader's
prime obligation is to separate "lies" of art from lies of power; "power,"
New adds, "will often speak with the voice of art-is, indeed, art's best
mimic, and worst."49 Power is criticism's "best mimic, and worst," too,
for terms that delight me for their evident ground-capacity for lively mind
and living faith, namely, experience, nature, prophecy, committed, and Zeitgeist,
served Hitler's cosmic death wish,50 and these terms are so far from neces-
sarily proceeding from some ontological base to some good effect as to be
loose cannons of and vertiginously ungrounded instigators of harm in the
realm of nonverbal event. The warnings of Havel and New carry disturbing
implications for the relation between history and words, but Havel never
loses faith in the efficacious arc from preverbal origins to verbal effects,
for he traces his own words back to his as yet unarticulated but authen-
tic experience in jail, which forged his sure to be perennially influential
as well as simply timeless letters to his wife.5' Experience, nature, prophecy,
committed, and Zeitgeist can be efficacious insofar as these words retain their
ground-capacity for a lively mind, if not a living faith. When they are
more than culturally grounded, they do not necessarily raise the specter of
ethnocentrism.

This study of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries considers "the vic-
tors, the charismatic, and accomplished" on the one hand, and what Walter
Benjamin, on the other, calls-without Nietzsche's implication of "slave
morality"-"the defeated, the humbled, and the powerless."52 The latter


I9





THEME AND VARIATIONS


are implied here by the rising tide of largely Christian as well as often intel-
lectual common readers of not only bonnes lettres by Wesley and Edwards
but, perhaps more importantly, the belletristic but hardly decadent and
even still broadly appealing texts of Tennyson and Emerson. In the view
of E. D. Hirsch, Jr., bonnes lettres describe the "grand, broad, and noble
conception" of literature that connotes "best thoughts" more than "best
manner";53 this conception adds the hymns of Isaac Watts to the lyrics of
Wordsworth and the fiction of Harriet Beecher Stowe to that of Melville.
Belles lettres, in Hirsch's view, describe "the narrower, more decadent con-
ception" of literature. "The victors, the charismatic, and accomplished"
are embodied here not only by Tennyson and Emerson but also by Wesley
and Edwards. Since I have already staked out the common ground of the
latter pair, I recapitulate their mutual argument more than I requote it.
Since bonnes lettres of the eighteenth century may seem to play John
the Baptist to nineteenth-century belles lettres, I may seem to harbor the
naive progressivism of a Whiggish history. "The idea of progress" is "so
unfashionable at present as to seem almost laughable."54 Robert Nisbet
and Peter Medawar, however, have carefully defended it." Historians as
otherwise diverse as Gertrude Himmelfarb and Lawrence Stone regard as
"unfortunate" the principle that "progress" is automatically ruled inferior
to the arguments of social-anthropological and demographic-Cliometric
histories, for these histories, too, are based on nothing more, if also noth-
ing less, than the given historian's beliefs.56 Developmental diachronicity
if not progress is implied by the learned detail and impressive scope with
which scholars still argue that Freudian psychology emerged from Lockean-
intellectual trends.57 I plead innocent to any charges of Whiggish excess.
Just as the works of geological science "need not be linked in a continuum
of progress . but can be spread across a conceptual space" as each ge-
ologist "reverts to and complicates" the "eternal metaphors" of "time's
arrow" and "time's cycle,"58 so writings by Wesley, Edwards, Tennyson,
and Emerson do not so much "improve" from Wesley and Edwards through
Tennyson and Emerson as revert to, and complicate, the perennial themes
that spread across the conceptual but also experiential, and indeed geo-
graphical, space of the philosophical theology in which I am interested.
Belletristic literature that not only comes after but also follows from bonnes
lettres may refine, but does not necessarily deepen, the "bonnelettristic"
heritage.


20





THEME AND VARIATIONS


While neither empiricism nor evangelicalism is confined to either En-
gland or the United States, each method is so characteristic of both coun-
tries as to occur simultaneously as well as alternately during the Anglo-
American century from 1750 to 1850. "For the [American] middle class
with upward longings," sneers Paul Fussell, "the great class totem is
'Mother England,' "59 and inasmuch as two-thirds of my philosophically
theological triangle of Locke, Wesley, and Edwards is British, and inas-
much, too, as the British Locke antedates or enjoys "prior"-ity over the
Anglo-American nexus of Wesley and Edwards, I may seem to subordinate
American to British sensibility. I share something of German Arciniegas's
sense of "A History of the New World in Reverse," however; for just as
Arciniegas brings out the hopeful and decisive transformations of Europe
by North and South America,60 so Emerson's contribution to England was
philosophically and religiously, as well as politically, more positive than
any such contribution made by Tennyson to the United States.61 Although
Locke and Wesley exercised enormous influence on America, Edwards in-
fluenced Wesley more than the other way round.62 However, I do not wish
to imply that things American are "better" than things British, for I am not
saying so much about the categories "British" and "American" as about the
heading "Anglo-American." The "spiritual sense" of the Anglo-American
world-that is, its empiricism in combination with its evangelicalism-
illustrates that things British and things American coordinate as much as
vie with each other.
Daniel Jenkins, in his qualification of Donald Davie's definition of the
"Protestant Calvinist aesthetic" as "simplicity, sobriety, and measure,"
argues (apropos of my interest in evangelicalism in combination with
Romanticism) that, in order to achieve needed tension or contrapposto in the
theological understanding of literary history, one should cultivate the open-
endedness, the exhilaration, and the complexity of not only the Romantics
but also the Arminian evangelicals.6 Moreover, in order to achieve con-
trapposto in the philosophically theological understanding of literary history,
one should cultivate the all but philosophical sophistication of both the
Romantics and the Arminian evangelicals.
Davie, replying to Jenkins, graciously concedes that the Arminian Wes-
leys, brothers John and Charles, "represented originally a just and neces-
sary protest against the inertness that had settled on English Protestantism
by the time Watts died." Davie cannot bring himself, however, to do


21





THEME AND VARIATIONS


other than blame both the Wesleyan evangelicals and the Romantics for
their "pretense of extemporizing in a hortatory tone." Why a Dissenting
critic like Davie would necessarily object to hortatory tone is not clear, for
although the Wesleys never became Nonconformists, the Methodists did
in 1795. The collective tone of not only Wesley and the Calvinist Edwards
but also such Anglo-American Late Romantics as Tennyson and Emerson
is indeed sometimes hortatory, but it is rarely extemporizing or preten-
tious. These belletristic figures of Anglo-American literature are so firmly
grounded in a broad, inclusive, and flexible concept of experience that
they are empirically philosophical as well as evangelically theological.
In line with such religious-historical approaches to Romanticism as those
of Stephen Prickett, Bernard M. G. Reardon, and Robert M. Ryan,64 I
argue that the Late Romantic struggle shared by Tennyson and Emerson
does not ruin or deconstruct the sacred truths65 so much as reconstruct or
reconstitute them by all experiential means, whether religious or philo-
sophical. Romantic authors, more than authors in general, struggle against
religious beliefs as well as against precursors, but Denis Donoghue points
out that even the most "successful" of such struggles may issue in pyrrhic
victories.66 I reaffirm my previous affirmation of the philosophical-religious
optimism of Romantic literature. Perhaps still practicable is a hermeneutics
of discovery.
Finally, most germane to my emphasis on the broadly experiential basis
of Anglo-American Romanticism is the distinguished scholarship of Robert
Langbaum, who, exploring whether Romanticism extends into the twenti-
eth century, proposes that the phenomenon of Romanticism is not so much
a straightforwardly transcendentalizing/spiritualizing reaction against En-
lightenment rationality, common sense, and this-worldliness, as it is an
evolutionary development of some fundamental epistemological concerns
in Enlightenment thought.67 Romantic writers, like their Enlightenment
forebears stretching back to Locke and beyond, cultivate a powerfully
skeptical strain in their thinking. They worry about how we know things
and how we know that we know them.68 They are especially inclined to
address the problem by applying tests of experience, placing a primary
value on empirical evidence at the same time that they half-distrust sensory
experience. "We now look downward for the Word," Langbaum states,
"downward to the origins of the earth and the cosmos, to our own origins
in single-cell organisms hardly distinguishable from inanimate matter, to


22





THEME AND VARIATIONS


the unconscious motives that are the real origins of our 'noble' endeavors."
This reversal of the "traditional diagram" by which "people looked upward
for the truth" has led in literature to "an imagery of regression that has
had the effect of renewing spirituality through intensification rather than
elevation-a way convincing to modern sensibilities." Robert Browning,
for example, believes that "the error of the Darwinians" is that they "think
that their knowledge of man's low origins negates his spirituality," but
Browning and other Romantics dissolve "the distinction between high and
low." 69 Although I follow the direction in Romantic studies thus signaled
by Langbaum, I try to broaden the idea of experience he makes central to
such studies, for I suspect that the arc of experiential vision from Romantic
to Modern retains an at least virtually transcendentalizing/spiritualizing
tendency.
I argue, specifically, that the Late Romantic vision shared by Tennyson
and Emerson preserves that tendency, along with the post-Enlightenment
empiricizing tendency of Romanticism. The comprehensively epistemo-
logical dialectic bequeathed by the Wesleyan-Edwardsean Religious En-
lightenment to this premier diptych of Anglo-American letters makes its
Romanticism at once empiricizing and transcendentalizing/spiritualizing.
Experience, according to In Memoriam and the prose of Emerson's prime,
includes aspirations of imagination as well as workings of consciousness and
the unconscious. Thus identification of low "origins" with "spirituality" is
of a piece with looking "upward for the truth."
Anglo-American Antiphony: The Late Romanticism of Tennyson and Emerson
concludes my tetralogical reaffirmation of the optimism of Romantic lit-
erature. My ongoing fascination with the triangle of philosophy, religion,
and literature, a case study in the sociology of ideas, focuses on the ex-
periential common ground between, and hence the playful interaction of,
empiricism and evangelicalism. The first part of this book, "The Method
of In Memoriam," will equal the length if not the scope of the second part,
"The Method of Emerson's Prose." Each part denominates as Late Roman-
tic the period that extends from about 1830 to 1850. As quintessential
spokespersons for middle-brow culture in their age, Tennyson and Emer-
son were read transatlantically. The poetry of the one and the prose of the
other derive in large measure from their shared, "bi-native" tradition of
empirical-evangelical prose; the creative tension between the rational em-
piricism of Locke and the Arminian/Calvinist evangelicalisms of Wesley


23





THEME AND VARIATIONS


and Edwards informs, even unconsciously, Anglo-American Romanticism.
If the empirical-evangelical arc of method that sparks the most indigenous
coordinates of this Romanticism should short-circuit in such pairings of
British with American authors as Robert Browning with Emily Dickinson
and George Eliot with Herman Melville, that is matter for another trea-
tise. Here I turn my attention to two relatively early nineteenth-century
authors who, however great their struggles over blindness and insight,
remain insufficiently self-conscious to sustain irony because they are both
desirous and expectant of truth and grace and joy.


24






positionn theTFirst


THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


lip










ONE






Introit






Despite (or because of) the tension and opposition between empiricism
and evangelicalism, the one does not exist without the other's being ac-
tively present or dynamically near. With regard to art in particular as
well as to culture in general, Friedrich von Schiller argues that Stofftrieb
(material-drive) and Formtrieb (form-drive) cooperate to produce Spieltrieb
(play-drive). Schiller concludes that "we have now been led to the notion
of a reciprocal action between the two drives, reciprocal action of such a
kind that the activity of the one gives rise to, and sets limits to, the activity
of the other, and in which each in itself achieves its highest manifestation
precisely by reason of the other being active."1 The dialectic/"reciprocal
action" of empiricism and evangelicalism constitutes the Spieltrieb of In
Memoriam. If the play of this elegy is not exactly seriousness or if the seri-
ousness of the poem is not play, the yoke of the poem, nevertheless, is
easy and the burden of the poem is light. In Memoriam regards bicultural
philosophy/faith as both fully alternating and fully interdependent.
My approach differs from the perhaps too serious, perhaps too unplay-
ful arguments for Tennyson's art as unified: "time and again," declares
John R. Reed, Tennyson "exploited" a single moral design;2 his "awareness
of doom," avers William R. Brashear, unequivocally integrates his work;3
and Tennyson, according to Ward Hellstrom, "consistently endorsed the
choice of life over death and involvement over isolation."4 While I, too,
regard Tennyson's art as sufficiently self-consistent, or at any rate well inte-
grated, I seek, nevertheless, to cultivate nuances and to incorporate them
into my own synoptic approach to In Memoriam, for I draw out the poem's
synthesizing, antiphonal power of empiricism-cum-evangelicalism.


27





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


My approach differs, too, from the widespread insistence that In Memo-
riam exemplifies "either/or" logic and procedure. W. David Shaw, per-
ceiving that Tennyson either argues through skepticism or affirms through
images, does not appear to conceive how or that he might do both,5 and
James R. Kincaid, contending that "the interplay and conflict of the comic
and ironic modes" form "the center of Tennyson's major poetry," empha-
sizes conflict more than interplay. Kincaid, specifically, regards the "dual-
ism" of In Memoriam not as a stand-off so much as a hierarchy in which
"the values of domestic comedy, of friendship and unremarkable love, are
substantiated and win out over the arguments of philosophy, science, per-
sonal grief, and the ironic perspective" (my italics). Thus "irony's tenuous
mixture becomes comedy's pure and triumphant assertion of continuity." 6
This schema leaves little room for even the most tenuous mixture of comic
irony or ironic comedy.
A. Dwight Culler, arguing that "Supposed Confessions of a Second-
Rate Sensitive Mind Not in Unity with Itself" (1830) is the formative
work of Tennyson's career, reads the dramatic monologue as "the portrait
of a mind vacillating between two extremes, the intellectual pride of the
rationalist and the evangelical's conviction of sin."7 Notwithstanding the
nature of the poem as a dramatic monologue, it boasts a memorable title;
the "either/or" logic of this speaker, however, swinging indecisively from
"ultrarationalism" to "ultrafidianism," is precisely what In Memoriam suc-
ceeds in escaping. This elegy, the high watermark of Tennyson's career,
envisions a more than predictably antipodal, because strangely whole, en-
counter between sense-based reason on the one hand and spiritual sense on
the other.
Tennyson seeks to reconcile empiricism with evangelicalism. Friedrich
Nietzsche, regarding Greek tragedy in particular as well as Greek cul-
ture in general, argues that "art owes its continuous evolution to the
Apollonian-Dionysiac duality, even as the propagation of the species de-
pends on the duality of the sexes, their constant conflicts and periodic
acts of reconciliation." Nietzsche concludes that "the two creative tenden-
cies developed alongside one another, usually in fierce opposition, each
by its taunts forcing the other to more energetic production, both per-
petuating in a discordant concord that agon which the term art but feebly
denominates: until at last, by the thaumaturgy of a Hellenic act of will,
the pair accepted the yoke of marriage and, in this condition, begot Attic


28





INTROIT


tragedy, which exhibits the salient features of both parents."8 Nietzsche's
tough-minded marriage-metaphor applies to The Marriage of Heaven and
Hell (1793) by William Blake, to Blake's "sustained tension, without vic-
tory or suppression, of co-present oppositions,9 and Tennyson's brand
of English-language Romanticism similarly maintains "tension, without
victory or suppression" between the "co-present oppositions" the strange
simultaneities, of empiricism-cum-evangelicalism. Although In Memoriam
does not apply the metaphor of marriage to the empirical-evangelical rela-
tionship, the poem does apply the idea of marriage to that relationship,
for Tennyson's reconciliation of these two methodologies envisions a dual
methodology.
Perhaps more like Nietzsche's concept than like Blake's, Tennyson's im-
plicit marriage relationship closes in on and is close to not so much a tragic
dualism of copresent opposition as a sweet comedic harmony between
them. Thus the interrelation in In Memoriam between Dionysiac (if not
Apollonian) empiricism and Apollonian (if not Dionysiac) evangelicalism is
not only a conflict-a "fierce opposition," a discord, and a yoke-but also
a propagation, a reconciliation, a creation, and a concord. Although the
tough and tender Romanticism in In Memoriam, its synthesis/antiphony of
empiricism with evangelicalism, does not fudge the differences between
philosophy and faith, neither does that Late Romanticism hedge these
"disciplines" about with difficulties. Since many individual sections of In
Memoriam play on rather than play up the differences between experien-
tial philosophy and experiential faith, Tennyson's poetic argument destroys
distinctions between philosophy and faith.
Critics, of course, discern certain Tennysonian dialectics. Valerie Pitt,
arguing that "there is in his work a true dialectic, a tension between the
insight of the solitary and the sense of the common and the social," adds
that "an awareness of the romantic wastes, the fluent and unshaped, ap-
pears through, and sometimes is imposed upon, an intense realisation of
normal activity and order." 10 Demonstrating that In Memoriam "has a dy-
namic unity of thought and feeling dependent on a dialectical principle
of growth and of a single consciousness," Robert Langbaum observes that
"the backtrackings, the changes of mood, style and levels of intensity,
even the apparent contradictions, are all signs of the genuineness of the
experience and coherent aspects of a single developing consciousness." 11
Since In Memoriam is a poem of "syntheses," declares Robert Pattison, "it


29





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


is not surprising to find pagan and Christian myth," specifically the myths
of Apuleius and St. John, "united in a single sense." 12 Daniel Albright,
against the critical grain of finding dialectic in In Memoriam, finds a failed
dialectic therein:

Tennyson tried to unite two incompatible poetics, one governed by
a heavenly muse who disdained the homely details of life, the other
governed by an earthly muse suspicious of the ideal and vague; and be-
cause he could not effect a full synthesis, a certain lingering stress can
be found everywhere in his work, a headache of inaccurate focus ....
In In Memoriam the elegist is pulled in opposing directions by two
muses, Melpomene and Urania, the muse of the commonplace and
the muse of the sublime-but, strangely, he is not sure which is the
more valuable to him.13

I argue that In Memoriam effects a full synthesis between Tennyson's earthly
muse and his heavenly one. His earthly inspiration of empiricism meets
the heavenly afflatus of his evangelicalism on the experiential ground of
his commonplace-sublime vision. Valuing both muses equally, Tennyson
relates his earthly/philosophical muse to his heavenly/theological muse in
just the same way that Wesley and Edwards relate their empiricism to their
evangelicalism, that is, by joining the distinctively experiential thesis of
their shared Lockean philosophy to the distinctively experiential antithesis
of their shared revival faith.
The empirically evangelical synthesis mutually developed by Wesley and
Edwards specifically adumbrates the philosophically theologically composi-
tional, empirically evangelically composite In Memoriam. As background to
this composite, the Cambridge Apostles mixed empirical philosophy with
experiential faith; "apostles," after all, is an evangelical name, and these
i82os descendants of Wesley's Holy Club at Oxford during the I730s not
only studied "Descartes and Kant" and "read their Hobbes, Locke, Berke-
ley, Butler, Hume, [and] Bentham" but also "discussed" such theological
and moral questions as "the Origin of Evil," "the Derivation of Moral Senti-
ments," and, clearly not least (from the evangelical point of view), "Prayer
and the Personality of God." 14 Tennyson's interest in proto-evolutionary
science long antedated even his relatively early reading of Charles Lyell's
all but full-blown evolutionary Principles of Geology in 1837. "My father,"
reported Hallam Tennyson in 1898, "seems to have propounded in some


30





INTROIT


college discussion the theory that the 'development of the human body
might possibly be traced from the radiated, vermicular, molluscous and
vertebrate organisms.' "15
Tennyson saw in evolution if not "a fully proved law" then "a magnifi-
cent working hypothesis," but "he could not regard it as a theory hostile
to ultimate faith." So reported William Boyd-Carpenter, who interviewed
Tennyson concerning his religious views. Boyd-Carpenter added that "far
beyond the natural wish to reconcile faith and thought," which Tennyson
shared with "all right-thinking men," was his conviction of the "change-
less personal relationship between God and man." 16 Tennyson saw a par-
allel between evolution and the development of the higher criticism in
Germany,17 but a more Lockean than scientific tenor inheres in his char-
acteristic philosophy that "if once we accepted the view that this life was a
time of education, then the dark things might be found to have a meaning
and a value" (my italics).18 "Victorian humanists, a liberal Anglican like
F. D. Maurice, a skeptic like Henry Sidgwick, together with leading scien-
tists, Sir John Herschel and others, thought Tennyson had managed to
re-establish the possibilities of faith precisely by taking into account the sci-
entific difficulties . 'through almost the agonies of a death struggle.' 19
The experiential basis of empiricism and evangelicalism enables this dual
possibility, this mutuality, of science and personal faith.
"Its faith is a poor thing," writes T. S. Eliot of In Memoriam, "but its
doubt is a very intense experience."20 "The whole question of religion
versus science," writes Langbaum,

has ceased to interest us. Most of us never had any faith to lose, and we
do not think that the lack of religion has left a hole in our lives. As for
those who really believe, my impression is that they have long since
given up any hope of reconciling their faith with scientific evidence.
In this, of course, they are following Tennyson's main prescription,
as well as Kierkegaard's (Teilhard de Chardin seems anachronistic in
his present-day attempt to reconcile evolution and religion).21

Be that as it may, Graham Hough and Eugene R. August accept the af-
firmation in Tennyson's attempt at just such a reconciliation.22 Langbaum
himself admires Tennyson's reliance on "the testimony of the heart" to help
him see "in the natural evolution of species an analogue to social progress
and man's spiritual evolution."23 Kincaid's view that, according to the ar-


31





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


gument of In Memoriam, "faith lives in and is assured by doubt,"24 is close
to mine. So is Timothy Peltason's twofold view, first that "the weirdly
faithful agnosticism of the poem-the civil religion of the West for the
last two centuries-looks more rigorous and can be looked at more rigor-
ously through the analysis of poetic form"; and second that In Memoriam is
"about the conditions under which we find ourselves pressed into making
new sense of experience." 25 The "new sense" that In Memoriam makes of ex-
perience is the spiritual sense, that is, the physical senses as both analogues
and avenues to spiritual knowledge.
Thus I examine the poem's at once empirical and evangelical formula-
tions of experience. Where Hallam is "The human-hearted man I loved"
(In Memoriam, 13. 11), he is of the natural world, but by the same token
of experiential criteria he is also "A spirit, not a breathing voice" (13. i2).
Tennyson's "reflections on man's relation to God and to nature"-the
phrase is George H. Ford's-imply that "nature" and "God" are not only
parallel but also intersecting,26 for "relation," after all, is singular. The
empirical-evangelical dialectic of In Memoriam tends ineluctably, although
not without tension or opposition, toward harmony and wholeness. Com-
paring In Memoriam both to Milton's Paradise Lost and to Pope's Essay on
Man (each of these poems "exactly expressed the character of its period"),
Alfred North Whitehead means, according to Langbaum, that In Memo-
riam expresses the "characteristically Victorian controversy between science
and religious faith."27 Ultimately, In Memoriam resolves the controversy be-
tween science and religion because fundamentally on experiential ground it
finds no irremediable controversy between empiricism and evangelicalism.
It interrelates them.


32







TWO


Empirical Procedures






The empirical procedures of In Memoriam not only come before but are also
more primal if not more primary than the religious principles included in
the varied but not finally unintegrated rhetoric of consolation in the poem.
These empirical procedures assure a triumph of will that deepens until,
by fits and starts from one section of the poem to another, the persona
dispels despair through his natural, distinct from his spiritual or natural-
spiritual, strategy for recovery from grief. The natural-experiential thesis
of In Memoriam, quite apart from its synthesis-antiphony of the natural
and spiritual kinds of experience-hence quite apart from the full unity
of the poem (see my next two sections)-entails more hope than tragedy.
Tennyson's human-centered "science" of bittersweet empiricism rises to
the challenge posed not only to his faith but also to his philosophy by
"Nature, red in tooth and claw / With ravine" (56.15-16).
Tennyson's "strong empirical bias" (Jerome H. Buckley's phrase)' in-
cludes, of course, his knowledge of nineteenth-century science, which he
knew better than did either Coleridge or Carlyle.2 At Cambridge with
its "preeminence in the natural sciences," Tennyson concluded that all
branches of knowledge should be subject to "scientific demonstration";
thus he showed "greater receptivity" than did the other Apostles to "the
method and intention of the new inductive scientists."3 One source for
his scientific thought, namely, Robert Chambers's Vestiges of the Natural
History of Creation (1844), "interprets evolution in terms of progress and
as evidence of a benevolent Providence,"4 but the gloomier evolutionary
implications of Principles of Geology (1830-33) by Sir Charles Lyell, and for
that matter of Origin of Species (1859) by Charles Darwin, gloss In Memo-


33






THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


riam, too.5 Alfred North Whitehead, disagreeing (in advance) with the
opinion of W. H. Auden that Tennyson is our "stupidest poet,"6 called In
Memoriam "a most important reflection of the Victorian mind," and T. H.
Huxley, Victorian scientific apologist par excellence, accordingly thought
Tennyson a fellow intellectual giant.7 The "physical realities" of In Memo-
riam (Buckley's phrase) participate in as well as derive from the unflinching
evolutionary explorations of Victorian Britain, for after reading Lyell's Prin-
ciples, which espouses "the unorthodox theory of uniformitarian change,"
Tennyson intuited "the disquieting notion of human evolution, which Lyell
himself was reluctant to make explicit." 8 Thus evolutionary science looms
so large in the atmosphere of Tennyson's verse that he might almost be
said to have contributed to it, and thus, too, Tennyson's tough-minded
science can make him seem pre-Modern.9
Buckley speaks, moreover, of the "preference in [Tennyson's] verse for
microscopic accuracy of detail and precision of image," that is, for the
early though still indigenous biology of Erasmus Darwin and astronomy of
William and Caroline Herschel.10 Robert Langbaum, acknowledging the
influence of the Herschels on In Memoriam, finally sees the poem as more
pre-Charles Darwinian than Erasmus-Darwinian or post-Newtonian, for
the Herschels "demoted the sun to a minor star in our galaxy and taught
the evolution of stars out of nebulae." 1 Regardless of whether Tennyson
harked back to the science of the eighteenth century in order to broaden his
contribution to evolutionary thought, however, he did indeed hark back
to it, and I suggest that he did so in order to relieve his immersion in the
cosmic glooms and brightnesses of Victorian evolutionary theory. While
the botanical-astronomical values of "microscopic accuracy of detail" and
"precision of image" speak eloquently of Romantic particulars, they speak
even more eloquently of eighteenth-century sensibility.
Tennyson's "strong empirical bias" includes, above all, neoclassic em-
piricism based on Locke, for although A. Dwight Culler regards "Locke's
empiricism" as "moribund" in nineteenth-century Britain,12 Hallam Tenny-
son's account of the Cambridge Apostles so strongly emphasizes the em-
pirical as well as ideal character of their philosophical inquiries that his
account deserves repeating here: "These friends [reports Tennyson's son]
not only debated on politics but read their Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley,
Butler, Hume, Bentham, Descartes, and Kant." 13 The Lockean tenor of


34






EMPIRICAL PROCEDURES


Tennyson's inquiry means, at least, that he observes inductive method, for
Carlyle speaks of Tennyson as "carrying a bit of Chaos about him, . .
which he is manufacturing into Cosmos!" 14 The Lockean bent of Tenny-
son's procedure, finally, is indicated by his assumption of the tabula rasa,
his view that even the lowliest experiences can be pivotal if not forma-
tive; Roden Noel quotes Tennyson and comments on him thus: "'I believe
that everything which happens to us we remember; it is all stored up
somewhere to come forth again upon occasion, though it may seem to be
forgotten-even this movement to the window we shall remember.' But he
added, 'perhaps not this, so trivial a circumstance!' And now how that very
utterance has impressed this circumstance upon me!" 15 The poet accounts
for even the unconscious/experiential springs of one's conscious, and hence
Lockean/experiential, identity.
The death of Arthur Henry Hallam (1833), like the deaths of species
over the course of aeons, can seem an extinction,16 for Tennyson takes a
deeply troubling journey led by his sense-based emotion as well as by
his sense-based reason. He also takes, however, sustained and sustaining
flights of his sense-based imagination. His natural, distinct from spiritual
or natural-spiritual, vision is a nonescapist yet lyric-sweet point of view
steeped in the human-centered "science" of bittersweet empiricism that,
as I have previously argued, is shared as well by Wordsworth and Keats.17
Much of In Memoriam, indeed, exemplifies what Keats calls "the poetry of
earth," which, as Keats declares, "is never dead" (see line i of Keats's "To a
Grasshopper" [1817]); and much of In Memoriam, moreover, locates more
happiness than unhappiness in the natural/Lockean world, that is, in what
Wordsworth's most strictly Lockean mood describes as the "world / Of all
of us, the place in which, in the end, / We find our happiness, or not at
all" (The Prelude [1850], 10.726-28).18 Thus the empirical procedures of
In Memoriam win their way through to a complex and subtle but robust
and untroubled tone that runs the full natural gamut from science to phi-
losophy, that is, from tough- to tender-minded attitudes about the nature
of nature.
From the beginning of In Memoriam through at least sections 55 and 56,
Tennyson's tone can be so "disquieting" (Buckley's word) as to constitute
his most somber mood. Nature, in shaping the species, shows disregard
for as well as indifference to the individual:


35






THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life,

That I, considering everywhere
Her secret meaning in her deeds,
And finding that of fifty seeds
She often brings but one to bear,

I falter where I firmly trod,
(55.7-13)

Disquiet grows, moreover, in 56, where even the species are insecure:

"So careful of the type?" but no.
From scarped cliff and quarried stone
She cries, "A thousand types are gone;
I care for nothing, all shall go.

"Thou makest thine appeal to me.
I bring to life, I bring to death;
The spirit does but mean the breath:
I know no more."
(56.1i-8)

The processes of nature, then, are blind, deaf, arbitrary, oblivious to
humankind, and, worst of all, unintelligent. These famous "evolution"
lyrics, according to James R. Kincaid, "do all irony can do to drive a
wedge between the unities that man has created: between intellect and
emotion, motive and act, God and nature, man and God."19 Section 56,
in particular, presents what Kincaid calls "the nadir of the experience of
In Memoriam, a vision of hopelessness and waste." Homo sapiens, no more
destined to endure than the dinosaur, will leave only a fossil record; our
end, horrifyingly, will be as mindlessly violent, as apocalyptically final, as
the end of the dinosaur:

Dragons of the prime,
That tare each other in their slime,
Were mellow music match'd with him,
(56.22-24)


36






EMPIRICAL PROCEDURES


with man-unkind. So scientifically based, so mindless, seems man's inhu-
manity to man, that Tennyson can only lament: "0 life as futile, then, as
frail!" (56.25).
In language commensurate with hardened sense-language, Tennyson
contemplates his own mortality, for just as he mourns the deaths of indi-
viduals and of species, so-in section 50, which addresses God, Hallam,
or anyone else who will listen-he updates scientifically, if you will, the
old prayer of near desperation about one's own self, namely, "Be with me
now and in the hour of my need":

Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.

Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is racked with pangs that conquer trust;
And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a Fury slinging flame.
(50. I-8)
Timothy Peltason, failing to acknowledge that this section might be ad-
dressed to Hallam, intriguingly speculates that Tennyson has God or the
reader in mind; indeed, in echoing The Cenci and Queen Mab, the section
reaches out to Shelley.20 The section draws, moreover, on Ecclesiastes 12.3-
6, where old age is depicted in an allegory as the fading of first one sense
and then another. The King James version warns of

the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong
men shall bow themselves, and the grinders shall cease because they
are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, and the
doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is
low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters
of music shall be brought low; also when they shall be afraid of that
which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree
shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall
fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about
the streets: or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be


37





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken
at the cistern.

Tennyson, similarly, apprehends death as the especially fearful waning of
each sensuous power. The fact that he fears death precisely because it de-
prives him of the physical senses proves the strength, if proof were needed,
of his sensationalist epistemology.
The shock of Hallam's death so "stunn'd" the poet from his "power to
think" and all his "knowledge" of himself (6. 15-16) that, addressing the
phenomenon of fluctuating grief, he asks rhetorically,

Can calm despair and wild unrest
Be tenants of a single breast,
Or sorrow such a changeling be?
(16.2-4)

His grief varies according to whether "the winds begin to rise" (I5. ) or
whether the ocean is "a plane of molten glass" (i5.11). Such apparent
correlation between his grief and changeable externality, however, proves
illusory:

Or doth she only seem to take
The touch of change in calm or storm,
But knows no more of transient form
In her deep self, than some dead lake

That holds the shadow of a lark
Hung in the shadow of a heaven?
(I6.5-Io)

The dead, unchanging weight of solipsistic grief underlies the only appar-
ent changeability of grief. This weight of grief would seem to be the very
"self" of Tennyson's reality. His lack of sense perception is where his loss
shows, for his relation to all objects is destroyed by Hallam's removal.
Subject-object coalescence becomes tenuous, at best, when the main ob-
ject of Tennyson's affections withdraws, and Tennyson withdraws as surely
as Hallam does.
Because the persona of the poem can no longer empirically affirm the
being of Hallam, the persona pretends to do so through his imagination,


38





EMPIRICAL PROCEDURES


for he does not at first seem capable of other than "empirical" means of
affirming reality. Awaiting the ship that bears Hallam's body home from
Vienna where Hallam died suddenly of an apoplectic stroke, the persona
imagines his friend disembarking real and vivid once again, for Hallam
would "strike a sudden hand in mine, / And ask a thousand things of home"
(14. 11-12), and the persona would perceive "no touch of change, / No
hint of death in all his frame" (14.1 7-18). Through such strong memory
as would seem to overcome and almost to deny Hallam's absence, the poet
still treasures his "look" and his "words" (18. 14-16); and even after the
body is removed from the ship, during "the ritual of the dead" (18. 12),
the poet would attempt, in an especially quixotic and bizarre sally of the
imagination, to revive Hallam through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation:

I, falling on his faithful heart,
Would breathing thro' his lips impart
The life that almost dies in me;
(18.14-16)

This vain attempt, however, exemplifies vain imagination, for the poet can
no longer sustain the pretense of being in the presence of one whom he
loved. Where he cannot empirically affirm Hallam's being, he appears to
choose not to affirm it at all, and one feels an especially poignant contrast
between Tennyson's desire to see and hear Hallam and the dearth of anyone
to see and hear. In this connection one may think of Wordsworth's Lucy,
who, since she "neither hears nor sees," and since Wordsworth neither hears
nor sees her, is dead indeed, that is, so extrinsic to empirical procedures as
to seem to exist no longer.21
The empirical mode of In Memoriam is especially telling and precisely
tough-minded in early passages where Tennyson stares at death with cour-
age and without recourse to glib remedy. His meditation on a yew tree
in section 2, for example, finds no other consolation than the acute and
astringent, and hence salutary, awareness of mortality:

Old yew, which graspest at the stones
That name the underlying dead,
Thy fibers net the dreamless head,
Thy roots are wrapt about the bones.
(2.1-4)


39




THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


Peltason points properly to the "justified pathetic fallacy" of this "fine" sec-
tion.22 From one point of view, of course, the tree welcomes and embraces
the dead, but it also threatens, entraps, and supplants the dead, for one
is reminded, albeit proleptically, of the lament by Thomas Hardy for an
English soldier killed in the Boer War (1899-1902): "Drummer Hodge"
(1902) chillingly relates that Hodge's "homely Northern breast and brain /
Grow[s] to some Southern tree." The final quatrain of section 2 is far from
finding in the yew tree any imagery of longevity or hope:

And gazing on thee, sullen tree,
Sick for thy stubborn hardihood,
I seem to fail from out my blood
And grow incorporate into thee.
(2. I3-16; my italics)

This diction, emphatically, grows more negative than merely neutral.
The meaninglessness implied by the stark fact of death is emphasized
too by the bleak imagery of section 3, which, reminiscent of T. S. Eliot's
"The Waste Land" (1922) or of Robert Browning's "Childe Roland to the
Dark Tower Came" (1855), shows how far the natural world in Tennyson's
imagination falls short sometimes of even so flawed a divinity as "Crass
Casualty" in Hardy's "Hap" (1898):

"The stars," she [Tennyson's nature] whispers, "blindly run;
A web is woven across the sky;
From out waste places comes a cry,
And murmurs from the dying sun;"
(3.5-8)

The persona's acquaintances offer such consolations as "'other friends re-
main' and "'loss is common to the race'" (6. 1-2), but the persona rejects
these banalities: "And common is the commonplace, / And vacant chaff
well meant for grain" (6.3-4). His sarcasm resembles Job's dismissal of
the cliches of Eliphaz (see Job 3); the detached generalities of greeting-card
verse simply cannot speak to grief as deep as Tennyson's.
The calmness of nature, to be sure, appears to offer "empirical" conso-
lation:

Calm is the morn without a sound,
Calm as to suit a calmer grief,


40




EMPIRICAL PROCEDURES


And only thro' the faded leaf
The chestnut pattering to the ground;

Calm and deep peace on this high wold,
And on these dews that drench the furze,
And all the silvery gossamers
That twinkle into green and gold;

Calm and still light on yon great plain
That sweeps with all its autumn bowers,
And crowded farms and lessening towers,
To mingle with the bounding main;

Calm and deep peace in this wide air,
These leaves that redden to the fall,
(II.1-I4)

This calmness is illusory, for the next lines make an abrupt transition to an
ominous, truer calm: "And in my heart, .. / If any calm, a calm despair"
(II. 15-16). Thus nature's "calm" is subverted by and fails to correspond
with the only calm the poet knows, that is, the calm of tragic nothingness.
Thus he refuses consolation from the too obvious "answers" of nature, for
the next quatrain, describing the ship's bearing of Hallam's body home,
refers to

Calm on the seas, and silver sleep,
And waves that sway themselves in rest,
And dead calm in that noble breast
Which heaves but with the heaving deep.
(11.17-20)

Just as one reads 1. 19 with an emphasis on "dead," so one reads 11.2-
"Calm as to suit a calmer grief"-with an emphasis on "as"; thus one dis-
cerns Tennyson's irony throughout this section. Since the misleading if not
deceptive calm of nature masks the worst there is to know, so this calm
assuredly fails to satisfy one's need to know the worst.
Peltason, commenting on section ii, acknowledges the "shudder,"
the "dangerous wavering," in Tennyson's various repetitions of the word
"calm." 23 Peltason concludes, however, that "this is not the clear subver-
sion of irony," for he cannot bring himself to think that the word has
"suddenly turned against itself and against the lovely serenity of the open-


41





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


ing." I, by contrast, see as much bitter irony in Tennyson's various "calm"s
as there is, say, in the "sweet"s of canto i, stanzas 122-27, of Byron's Don
Juan (1821).
The ironic description of nature in In Memoriam section ii is fore-
shadowed and carefully prepared for by the especially tough-minded nature
language of In Memoriam, section 7. Tom Paulin, while registering reserva-
tions about Tennyson "as the original National Heritage Poet-all that is
bogus, empty, self-parodic, dishonest, false and dead-as-doornails in the
culture," "can't let go of In Memoriam, 7, one of the saddest love lyrics in
the language":24

Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,

A hand that can be clasped no more-
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.

He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly through the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.
(7.1-12)

Ricks's "exemplary edition," as Paulin points out, "sends us to Luke 24.6,
the angel before the empty sepulchre: 'He is not here, but is risen.'"
Paulin's commentary is worth quoting at length:

And the notes [by Ricks] point us also to the ghost in Hamlet and
to Wordsworth's "Immortality Ode"-nowhere else in Tennyson is
there such rich and intelligent allusion. Like a scorned, a "guilty"
woman, he clutches his grief in the miserable street. This is another
version of Patient Griselda. Listening to the poem, you don't notice
the barrier of that semicolon in line 9: "He is not here, but far away"
is the Empsonian ambiguity which plays over the printed line-he's
abandoned me, he's in heaven, his spirit lives, I blame him, though.


42





EMPIRICAL PROCEDURES


It's wonderfully duplicitous, it makes the empty house into a meta-
phor for the body and Hallam into the risen spirit. Very cleverly, it
changes material reality and doubt into a desolate faith. The printed
stanza, with that abrupt caesural semicolon, seems to take it all away,
so that two very opposite points of view-the materialistic and the
religious-come together in a kind of visionary contradiction. With
its crashing spondees, its deliberate but judicious wrecking of the
otherwise facile metre, the last line is magnificent. Magnificent or just
that shade overdone? But it's unfair to question its crushing finality.
That line and Tennyson's other lovely line, "Break, break, break",
prepare the ground for Christina Rossetti and for Hopkins.

Far from romanticizing the sunrise at Hallam's home on Wimpole Street,
the persona numbly announces, shortly after hearing of Hallam's death,
that

The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly through the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.
(7. 10-12)

The limping, staggering rhythm of the twelfth line fits the fragmented and
anything but calm (or at best only dead calm) realities of an empty house,
an empty world, and the agitated spirit of a friend left behind, alone and
bereft.
In Memoriam, however-and here is my emphasis-is neither finally
tragic nor often even merely mechanically empirical. Both its theme and
its form resemble the Book of Job more than, say, De Rerum Natura by
Lucretius. Individual instances of sudden gains in hope, such as the one
that tacitly occurs between In Memoriam, 56 and 57, hark back to the sharp
progress made by the Joban poet in the mysterious interstice between Job
12 and Job 13-14, and between verses 24 and 25 of Job 19. Although I
know of no explicit comparison of In Memoriam with the Book of Job, the
parallels between these works are implicit in the helpful discussions by
Kincaid and Culler.25
Such instances add up to the gradual progress of three steps forward and
two steps back. Gradual progress, in the cases of both the Joban poet and
the persona of In Memoriam, is largely due to the triumphs of their wills.


43






THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


One cannot, it is true, resist enjoying Edward Fitzgerald's famous objec-
tion to the lowest moments of In Memoriam: "I felt that if Tennyson had
got on a horse and ridden 20 miles, instead of moaning over his pipe, he
would have been cured of his sorrows in half the time. As it is, it is about
3 years before the Poetic Soul walks itself out of darkness and Despair
into Common Sense." 26 Perhaps Fitzgerald undervalues the senses in which
Tennyson's hope comes from darkness.27 Not even the empirical voice of In
Memoriam succumbs entirely to despair. One thinks, by analogy, of Job's
refusal to consider suicide (see Job 3). While I agree with Paulin that In
Memoriam, 77 "changes material reality and doubt into a desolate faith" and
that "the materialistic and the religious" "come together" in this section,
I cannot altogether agree with Paulin's rather contradictory point that the
"materialistic" and the "religious" of section 7 amount to "very opposite
points of view" or to "a kind of visionary contradiction." These "points of
view," in the context of the poem as a whole, are not so much "opposite"
as joined by synthesis.
Although Tennyson at the beginning emphasizes the "clouds of name-
less trouble" that "cross / All night below the darken'd eyes" (4. 13-14),
and although he thus shares "the dark night of the soul" in which, for
example, Gerard Manley Hopkins "wake[s] and feels] the fell of dark,
not day,"28 the dawn's return of common day and conscious experience
brings consolation and relief to the poet even at the beginning, for "With
morning wakes the will, and cries, / 'Thou shalt not be the fool of loss'"
(4. 15-16). Just as Tennyson's "Ulysses" (1842) suggests that the purpose
of humankind is "to follow knowledge" across an ever beckoning horizon,
so "the overall design" of In Memoriam and much of the "poignancy of its
separate parts" derive not just from emotion but, more significantly, from
"the interplay of idea and emotion" or the "impact upon the lonely self of
new knowledge growing from more to more in a troublous and change-
ful society." 29 Empirical assumptions-that is, ideas of sensation-form
Tennyson's sustaining force against strong odds, and this is true from the
outset, for Kincaid finds comedy as well as irony in the early sections.30
Francis P. Devlin's study of these sections finds rebirth and renewal as well
as death and separation;31 section 21, in particular, fights indulgence in
grief by advocating scientific as well as political activism. Through two
powerful rhetorical questions-


44






EMPIRICAL PROCEDURES


"Is this an hour
For private sorrow's barren song,
When more and more the people throng
The chairs and thrones of civil power?"

and

"[Is this] a time to sicken and to swoon,
When Science reaches forth her arms
To feel from world to world, and charms
Her secret from the latest moon?"
(21.13-21)

-a mysterious voice (could it be Carlyle's?) tells Tennyson that even one's
most grievous personal loss is hardly the proper occasion for shirking one's
work in the world. Although the persona is not quite ready in only the
twenty-first of 131 sections to heed fully the genuinely consolatory voice
of empiricism, he finds natural reasons, even thus early, to avoid the most
paralyzing effects of grief.
Tennyson's hopeful emphasis on the purely natural resources of lyric
aspiration is derived from the purely empirical realm, and this particular
achievement of his various modes of consolation is perhaps the most genu-
ine and most characteristic achievement of his poem. Using the exclusively
natural terms of a pastoral paradise to describe the ideal friendship he en-
joyed with Hallam, Tennyson evokes his friend so richly as to make him
present once again:

And we with singing cheered the way,
And, crowned with all the season lent,
From April on to April went,
And glad at heart from May to May.


And all we met was fair and good,
And all was good that Time could bring,
And all the secret of the Spring
Moved in the chambers of the blood;
(22.5-8, 23. 17-20)


45






THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


"The force that through the green fuse drives the flower / Drives my green
age," writes Dylan Thomas,32 and in Tennyson's lines there is a similarly
boisterous vitality, an "emotion recollected in tranquillity," 33 that carries
over from his time with Hallam to the time of his writing. These lines,
although pantheistic enough to revel only chthonically, prepare for the
poem's theistic evaluation/valuation of nature. (See my discussion of sec-
tions 91, 12I, and 130 in chapter four.)
In the famous twenty-seventh section Tennyson casts his bread upon the
waters of chance and secular experience:

I envy not in any moods
The captive void of noble rage,
The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods;


I hold it true, whatever befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
(27. I-4, 13-16)

"Quoted by now into meaninglessness," writes Peltason, "these lines evi-
dence an important new understanding. The end of experience is not the
sum of experience or the only source of meaning. The poet has loved and
he has lost, but the second of these has not canceled out the first."34
Through no more promising a source of buoyancy than sheer existential
pluck, Tennyson regains his will to live in the "world / Of all of us." By
section 83, therefore, he needs no other resource to generate his resonant,
moving expression of hope than just his strong love of nature:

Dip down upon the northern shore,
O sweet new-year delaying long;
Thou doest expectant Nature wrong;
Delaying long, delay no more.

What stays thee from the clouded noons,
Thy sweetness from its proper place?


46






EMPIRICAL PROCEDURES


Can trouble live with April days,
Or sadness in the summer moons?

Bring orchis, bring the foxglove spire,
The little speedwell's darling blue,
Deep tulips dash'd with fiery dew,
Laburnums, dropping-wells of fire.

0 thou, new-year, delaying long,
Delayest the sorrow in my blood,
That longs to burst a frozen bud
And flood a fresher throat with song.
(83.1-16)

Tennyson sustains this especially lovely lyric simply by wishing for the re-
turn of a spring that will bring him the end of grief and a new birth of
joy. His persona does not "fling [his] soul upon the growing gloom," as
in Hardy's "The Darkling Thrush" (19o01), but instead cultivates, for the
oddly life-affirming purpose of expressing sorrow anew, the purely natural
if not sexually vital "throbbings of noontide" (see Hardy's "I Look into my
Glass" [18981). These surpassingly sweet loco-descriptive lines are more
delicate than merely tending toward the diminutive, and they modulate to
deep, full passion.
"April is the cruelest month," writes Eliot in The Waste Land, and Tenny-
son, clearly of Eliot's mind and against the opposite, upbeat April tradition
from Geoffrey Chaucer through Robert Browning to Wallace Stevens,35
knows that even April can be cruel. The second rhetorical question of sec-
tion 83 (lines 7-8) demands an affirmative answer. Since Hallam lives no
longer, "trouble" indeed lives with April days. "Sadness" indeed lives with
"summer moons." This irony, this defamiliarization of conventionality, is
the only ruffler, however, in a passage otherwise full of hope and otherwise
based on the unalloyed beauty of nature. Writing of sections 83 and 86, in
particular, Kincaid observes that "when the comedy falters" in "the second
half of the poem," and when the "irony threatens to disappear," Tennyson
"turns to images in nature to renew confidence and reform the [comic/
ironic] energies" of In Memoriam.36
The empirical method of In Memoriam yields even the poem's develop-


47






THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


mental psychology, which is largely tender-minded. The Lockean as well
as Wordsworthian doctrine that "the Child is Father of the Man" is a poetic
formulation of the tabula rasa, and an especially well-observed datum in
the discussion by Samuel F. Pickering, Jr., of Wordsworth's "Ode: Inti-
mations of Immortality" (1802-4).37 This datum is echoed in Tennyson's
experientialist account of subject-object development in childhood:

The baby new to earth and sky,
What time his tender palm is prest
Against the circle of the breast,
Has never thought that "this is I";

But as he grows he gathers much,
And learns the use of "I" and "me,"
And finds "I am not what I see,
And other than the things I touch."

So rounds he to a separate mind
From whence clear memory may begin,
As thro' the frame that binds him in
His isolation grows defined.
(45.1-12)

This passage, referring like such Freudians as Ferenczi to subject/object
differentiation in the child, emerges as pre-Freudian,38 but its psychology
is fundamentally post-Lockean, for Tennyson is interested not so much in
the origins of repression and the subconscious as in such consciousness-
related phenomena as subjectivity, memory, the mind's place in nature,
the creative roles of the tactile and the ocular senses, and-clearly not
least-the shaping power of experience in general. Although "isolation" is
double-edged, this diction speaks of the discreteness of identity as much
as of the subjective abyss.
Finally, the empirical method of In Memoriam yields the epistemologi-
cally robust perception theme of the poem. This theme can seem more
Berkeleyan and ingenious than Lockean and robust, for the external world
depicted in the scientific section 123 is so shifting and insubstantial as to
be all but immaterial:


48






EMPIRICAL PROCEDURES


There rolls the deep where grew the tree.
O earth, what changes hast thou seen!
There where the long street roars hath been
The stillness of the central sea.

The hills 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.
(123. 1-8)

This section, like In Memoriam, 7, is one we cannot do without. Compare
it with Lyell's The Principles of Geology, which discusses the "interchange of
sea and land" that has occurred "on the surface of our globe"; Lyell remarks
that "in the Mediterranean alone, many flourishing inland towns and a still
greater number of ports now stand where the sea rolled its waves since
the era when civilized nations first grew in Europe." 39 This shifting scene
achieves its reality only in the stable perceptions of the poet:

But in my spirit will I dwell,
And dream my dream, and hold it true;
For though my lips may breathe adieu,
I cannot think the thing farewell.
(123.9-12)

Although Tennyson writes that "our memory fades / From all the circle
of the hills" (101.23-24), and although he thereby suggests that the hills
are solidly objective realities independent of our perceptions of them, his
allusion to the Book of Psalms (see Psalm I21. I: "I will lift up mine eyes
unto the hills, from whence cometh my help") suggests to me that the hills
themselves are accessible to if not partly determined by our perceptions,
and thus, without our eyes upon the circle of the hills, it too may fade.
"To be is to be perceived" is not to Tennyson's taste, however, for being
can hardly depend on perceivers who do not endure. Even more pertinent
to my point of view than any transmutation of Berkeley by Tennyson, is
Tennyson's appropriation of Locke's concept that things exist that are inde-
pendent of, even while they correspond with, our ideas of them. Although
the landscape would seem to derive significance only from association with


49





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


Hallam-"I find no place that does not breathe / Some gracious memory
of my friend" (Ioo. 3-4)-and although the landscape will acquire new
meaning from such aftercomers as "the laborer" and "the stranger's child"
(ioi. 20-21)-there is considerable consolation simply in the poet's present
awareness that nature continues: the "garden bough shall sway," though
unwatchedd" (ioi. i); the "sunflower" shall shine "fair," though "unloved"
(i01.5); and things should not seem, but be. Since Hallam "seemed the
thing he was" (111.13), Tennyson trusts empirical knowing, and despite
the "shocks that flesh is heir to"40 in the "world / Of all of us," he thus
distinguishes, if not truth from falsehood and latency from patency, then
reality from appearance.
The epilogue rejoices that "love is more / Than in the summers that
are flown" (lines 17-18). Tennyson adds that "I myself with these have
grown / To something greater than before" (lines I9-20). Thus assuming
the simple efficacy of natural experience, he cultivates the reminiscentially
Lockean (because relatively untroubled if not robust) faith that, even when
time is tragic, brings not self-actualization but, if not spiritual progress,
then the growth and development of character in "the world / Of all of us."


50







THREE


Evangelical Principles





The deeply inward yet outwardly directed and inquiring expression of faith
that Tennyson features in the otherwise scientifically focused section 124
of In Memoriam is matched in other passages of the poem by the elegist's
emphasis on spiritual experience as the complement to natural experience.
Neither from the expatiating astronomy of section 124 nor from its incisive
biology would any personally efficacious discovery of the divine appear to
emerge, for Tennyson declares that "I found Him not in world or sun, / Or
eagle's wing, or insect's eye" (124.5-6). These lines, after all, undercut the
bumper-sticker mentality of "I found Him!" However, while thus giving
vent to doubts worthy of Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach" (1867), Tenny-
son's persona overcomes his doubt and, despite his grief over the death of
Hallam, affirms his personal experience of religious discovery:
If e'er when faith had fallen asleep,
I heard a voice, "believe no more,"
And heard an ever-breaking shore
That tumbled in the Godless deep,
A warmth within the breast would melt
The freezing reason's colder part,
And like a man in wrath the heart
Stood up and answered, "I have felt."
(124.9-16)
These lines, echoing the experience of John Wesley in Aldersgate Street,
London, where, "at a quarter to nine" on the evening of May 24, I738, the
founder of Methodism's "heart" was "strangely warmed," 1 are more than a


5I





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


greeting-card version of Wesleyan conversion passages. The lines echo, too,
Wesley's eight-year journey from skepticism to faith.2 Thus the method of
In Memoriam adds evangelical principles to empirical procedures. Tenny-
son's combination of dynamic skepticism with "postcritical naivete" 3 is as
much Methodistical as it is methodological, for section 124's deeply inward
yet outwardly directed and inquiring expression of faith is matched in other
passages of the poem by the spiritual-experience dimension that Tennyson
adds to the natural-experience foundation of his experiential vision.
Although the "thoroughgoing subjectivism" of section 124 "does not
meet the difficulties raised by science, but simply bypasses them," and
although "the subjectivist attitude" in In Memoriam has accordingly re-
ceived "the severest criticism," Graham Hough, for one, finds the attitude
"both honest and extremely moving.,"4 Christopher Ricks, too, admires
Tennyson's subjective faith:

Some believers might argue that Tennyson sells Christianity short in
underrating the degree to which its beliefs are susceptible of substan-
tiation by argument; or unbelievers might argue that it is bad for
people to believe things which are not susceptible of argument. But
it is possible to think that Tennyson's poem offers almost all that can
hereabouts be honestly offered by the Christian, and that it is heart-
eningly free of the heartlessness which comes from the conviction
that the problems of pain, death, and evil can be dealt with by argu-
ments. . Indeed the In Memoriam stanza (abba) is especially suited
to turning round rather than going forward. To speak personally for
a moment: as an atheist, I should greatly prefer Tennyson to agree
with me; but I find it hard to understand the view that somehow he
is stuck there in a half-complacent, half-morbid tangle from which
we know-know so uncomplacently-that we have escaped.5

The "subjectivism" of In Memoriam, however, is hardly so thoroughgoing
as Hough and Ricks imply. This goes even for section 124. The faith that
the elegist increasingly espouses takes into account the particulars of time,
place, and circumstance, or of what Wordsworth, in a passage worth re-
peating here, calls "the world / Of all of us, the place in which, in the end, /
We find our happiness, or not at all" (The Prelude [18501, 10.726-28).
This faith even harks back to the objectivistt" patterns of conversion in
particular and experiential faith in general. Laid beside if not superimposed


52





EVANGELICAL PRINCIPLES


on the empiricism of In Memoriam, then, is its "empirical" evangelicalism.
A variety of passages besides section 124 illustrate Tennyson's advance
from struggle with self-absorption to what he clearly regards as the crown-
ing touch of his "evangelical" theology, namely, the universal efficacy that
he claims for the still "living" Hallam's Holy Spirit-like presence in the
world. The most pertinent historical gloss on this theology, and hence the
most powerful analogue to Tennyson's religious imagination, is the experi-
ential, explicitly Lockean (as well as fully biblical) faith that Wesley and
Edwards shared and notably promulgated throughout the Anglo-American
world.6 The effects of the transatlantic revivalism simultaneously begun
by the founder of British and American Methodism and the leader of the
Great Awakening were felt long after the time of Tennyson. Sections io8,
71, 82, 28, 33, 26, the prologue, sections 36, 31, 32, 52, 7, 103, 84, 50,
1o, 87, and I13-when considered in this particular order and from this
particular point of view-range from Tennyson's individualistic but re-
spectful explorations of such Christian fundamentals as the sin of selfhood
to his bold application to the here and now of a religious as well as poetic
imagination that grows out of, and is indeed honed by, the native/bi-
native, richly English-language, synthesizing, and far from unimaginative
heritage of Wesleyan-Edwardsean evangelical faith.
Apropos of Tennyson's "subjectivity," consider, if you will, his warning
against self-reflexivity or empty self-worship:

What profit lies in barren faith,
And vacant yearning, though with might
To scale the heaven's highest height,
Or dive below the wells of Death?

What find I in the highest place,
But mine own phantom chanting hymns?
And on the depths of death there swims
The reflex of a human face.
(Io8.5-12)

Keats's "Written upon the Top of Ben Nevis" (1818), similarly, looks both
high and low for an object worthy of worship, but finding only "sullen
mist" overhead and a "shroud / Vaporous" in the valley below, this sonnet
discovers, too, only "mist" in "the world of thought and mental might!"


53





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


Keats presumably would be glad to discover even such "solid ground" as
solipsism provides. To such a Keatsean mood of thoroughgoing doubt,
Tennyson seems to prefer, if no more resounding an affirmation of faith,
at least the nature reverence at which he has proved himself adept: "I'll
rather take what fruit may be / Of sorrow under human skies" (io8. 13-
I4). Thus referring not just to his own sorrow but to sorrow as the general
condition of humankind on earth, Tennyson works his way out of selfhood
to a compassionate orientation toward objects and subjects in the world
below. Section o108 thus divagates from the dead-end skepticism and the
extreme subjectivity of Romanticism. Tennyson's milder Romantic stance
is hardly orthodox, for Christianity emphasizes joy in a world elsewhere,
but his nature reverence is experientially religious enough to be at least
partially commensurate with the evangelical faith of Wesley and Edwards.
Their combination of nature reverence and this-worldly compassion forms a
legendary feature, after all, of their joint legacy to the nineteenth century.7
To natural religion, though, whether deistic, theistic, pantheistic, or
chthonic, Tennyson clearly prefers an "evangelical" heart-religion, that is,
an inward yet deeply engaged or experiential/other-directed faith. "Full
fathom five thy father lies," writes Shakespeare in The Tempest (1.2.397); but
far from being dead, "thy father" miraculously "doth suffer a sea change /
Into something rich and strange" (The Tempest, I.2.400-401). And Tenny-
son, while implying a rather different point, subtly alludes to these lines.
Suggesting that the change is not so much from nature to another world
as from natural to spiritual experience within "the world / Of all of us,"
Tennyson recalls that he and Hallam "talk'd / Of men and minds, the
dust of change," reporting, significantly, that their days grew "to something
strange" (71.9-11; my italics). Thus, even as their spirits transcended time,
they remained in time. Where Tennyson affirms his faith in Hallam's after-
life-"Eternal process moving on, / From state to state the spirit walks"
(82.5-6)-he means both that Hallam has passed from earth to heaven,
where he continues to develop, and that amid the ceaseless activities of his
life on earth, his spiritual progress occurred because of as well as despite
those activities. During the first Christmas season after Hallam's death,
Tennyson hears "the Christmas bells from hill to hill" (28.3), and despite
their sing-song near monotony-his faith is ebbing at this point-they
strike his ear the more forcefully for his lack of expectation that they would
strike it at all: "The merry, merry bells of Yule" touch his sorrow "with


54





EVANGELICAL PRINCIPLES


joy" (28. 19-20). The appeal of the bells, while not fundamental to doc-
trine, is evangelical enough, for their kerygmatic message of hope peals
out to, connects with, and begins to heal even the lowest velleities of the
poet's post-traumatic experience.
In Memoriam, at least insofar as section 33 brings up short the theological
liberal who feels that his open-ended faith is superior to his sister's literal
creed, is classically evangelical:

O thou that after toil and storm
Mayst seem to have reached a purer air,
Whose faith has centre everywhere,
Nor cares to fix itself to form,

Leave thou thy sister when she prays
Her early heaven, her happy views;
Nor thou with shadow'd hint confuse
A life that leads melodious days.

Her faith thro' form is pure as thine,
Her hands are quicker unto good.
0, sacred be the flesh and blood
To which she links a truth divine!

See thou, that contest reason ripe
In holding by the law within,
Thou fail not in a world of sin,
And even for want of such a type.
(33.1-I6)

Timothy Peltason's comment acknowledges that the "dignity" of the sister's
"religious position" is preferred over the position of both the brother and
his "hazily defined group of fellow liberals." 8 A. C. Bradley, still the most
thorough commentator on In Memoriam, rejects the possibility that "Tenny-
son is thinking of himself and his sister" Emily or Cecilia, but Bradley
nonetheless calls the idea "plausible."9 Tennyson may sometimes be more
like the brother than like the sister, but his persona rejects the indefinite,
unfixed, and indeterminate theology of the brother in favor of the sister's
strong, definite, evangelical faith, which claims power as and because it
values form. (Wesley, as I have pointed out, bases his influential emphasis


55





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


on power and form on such biblical passages as i Corinthians 2. i-6.10)
Although Tennyson was intimately familiar with Liberal Anglicanism,'1
these quatrains implicitly contrast Liberal Anglicanism with Evangelical
Anglicanism; the quatrains direct their satire against the former. The evan-
gelical sister provides Tennyson with the standard by which he skewers the
brother's almost rationalistic-antinomian stance, which, besides forming
part of the brother's male pride, forms part of his "advanced" theology.
The sister's emphasis on "flesh and blood" (33. 1i) refers, by refreshing con-
trast, to the historical Jesus, the elements of communion, and all people
with whom her evangelical, practical charity comes in contact.
"How but in custom and in ceremony," asks William Butler Yeats, "are
innocence and beauty born?" (I refer to lines 78-79 of "A Prayer for My
Daughter" [1919].) Tennyson would agree with the experientially religious
implications of Yeats's rhetorical question. The sister's regulated but vital
experience excels by the richness of its spiritual form and content the mere
Sturm und Drang whereby, with more Continental-Romantic than British-
Romantic or British-evangelical warmheartedness, her Liberal Anglican
brother arrives at his truth.
What In Memoriam says about God can be so far from classically evangeli-
cal as to anticipate Thomas Hardy's "theology." Where Tennyson speaks of

that eye which watches guilt
And goodness, and hath power to see
Within the green the moulder'd tree,
And towers fallen as soon as built-
(26.5-8)

he rivals the sarcasm with which Hardy apprehends a possibly omniscient
but clearly indifferent God. These lines emerge, too, as a satire against
the judgmental Calvinist God of sovereignty, especially since an addi-
tional detail-"if indeed that eye foresee / Or see-in Him is no before"
(26.9-10)-exposes the supersubtleties if not the superabsurdities of the
predestinarian position. In I892 Roden Noel reported that "Lord Tennyson
believed in 'free will' ": "When I urged the argument of Jonathan Edwards,
and other more modern arguments against the popular conception of it,
he replied that free will, not being subject to the law of causation, was
a miracle, no doubt; but that consciousness testifies to the fact." 12 Tenny-
son's view is in line not only with Wesley's Arminian view but also with


56





EVANGELICAL PRINCIPLES


the empiricist view of David Hume, for whom in all seriousness "free
will" is a "miracle" of one's consciousness. Tennyson's dramatic monologue
"St. Simeon Stylites" (1833) satirizes not just overzealous Catholics but,
according to Roger S. Platizky, "the early nineteenth-century Evangeli-
cals, whose dread of a punitive judgment and of the putridity of the flesh
is similar to Simeon's." 13 Objection to Calvinist evangelicalism, however,
leaves room for sympathy toward Arminian-Wesleyan and even toward
experiential-Edwardsean (though not toward Calvinist-Edwardsean) evan-
gelicalism. (See the warring paradigms in Edwards, and especially his
Lockean middle phase.'4)
Fully evangelical because Christological and quite Arminian, is another
of the conceptions of Godhead in In Memoriam. The opening phrase of the
prologue, "Strong Son of God" (my italics), reflects an immediate historical
context, namely, "muscular Christianity," a coinage of Charles Kingsley's.
The vestiges of this Victorian form of Christianity, which led to the scout-
ing movement for boys and girls, may still be found depicted in Chariots
of Fire, a movie about the 1924 Olympics. Tennyson's Christ, however,
is also the fundamental and therefore the decidedly evangelical Christ of
traditional revelation:

And so the Word had breath, and wrought
With human hands the creed of creeds
In loveliness of perfect deeds,
More strong than all poetic thought;
(36.9-12)
Tennyson said that "there were, of course, difficulties in the idea of a
Trinity-the Three. 'But mind,' he said, 'Son of God is quite right-
that he was.' "15 Tennyson's Christ is consistent with the experiential, free-
willist, Arminian evangelicalism that gained ascendancy over the foreknow-
ing, predestinate, Calvinist evangelicalism in both England and America
from the eighteenth century to the nineteenth.16 Arminian evangelicalism
bears on Tennyson's declaration that In Memoriam expresses "my conviction
that fear, doubts, and suffering will find answer and relief only through
Faith in a God of Love." 17
Consider, in the light of the Arminian-evangelical emphasis on im-
mediate versus traditional revelation, Tennyson's recasting of the Lazarus
story (see John 11.1-44). "When Lazarus left his charnel-cave, / And


57





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


home to Mary's house returned," his sister asked him what anyone would
ask: "Where wert thou, brother, those four days?" (In Memoriam, 31. 1-2,
5). Bradley contrasts this question with the bland remark of Sir Thomas
Browne: "I can read . that Lazarus was raised from the dead, yet
not demand where, in the interim, his soul waited." 18 Tennyson, for his
part, laments that "There lives no record of reply" (31.6); his disappoint-
ment is palpable: "telling what it is to die / Had surely added praise to
praise" (31.7-8). Although Tennyson is greatly impressed with how much
the original story of Lazarus discloses to anyone willing to read it with
even a minimally Protestant attention to detail-"Behold a man raised
up by Christ!" (3I.I13)-this miracle is not finally definitive for Tenny-
son's account. The proponent of spiritual theology, distinct from the Bible
believer, grows dissatisfied:

The rest remaineth unreveal'd;
He told it not, or something seal'd
The lips of that Evangelist.
(31.14-16)
Without casting doubt on the account in traditional revelation, the poet
suggests that there is room for and indeed a need for immediate revela-
tion; since he does not yet know enough, he should be given to know
more, and it is not as though there is nothing else to know. The more
to know, while lending the appeal of mystery to what is already known,
awakens his appetite for and his receptivity to further dispensations con-
cerning not just the afterlife but, even more importantly here, other, more
this-world-pertinent aspects of ultimate spiritual knowledge.
The version of the Lazarus story in In Memoriam, 31, is thus more am-
bitious than other Victorian versions of it (see, for example, A. Dwight
Culler's discussion of Arnold's "Empedocles on Aetna" and Browning's
"Epistle of Karshish" 19). The theology in section 31 draws imaginatively
and specifically on evangelical understanding, which, like the thinking of
Tennyson's persona, insists on immediate revelation and, like the thinking
of Tennyson's Mary, can be starker, more "fundamentally" clear than the
Bible itself. It is almost as though Tennyson toys with a severely Protestant
aesthetic whereby mediation of any kind is devalued as a most unfortunate,
if necessary, distraction from the distinct, cohesive, point-blank meanings
that he seeks. The poet's Mary knows three things: first that "[Lazarus]


58





EVANGELICAL PRINCIPLES


was dead"; second that "there he sits"; and third that "he that brought him
back is there" (32.3-4). Thus she formulates, with a more than biblical
clarity, her considerable and methodically acquired if not hard-won knowl-
edge. Although Bradley observes that "in the mind of Lazarus's sister"
curiosity as to the state beyond death was "absorbed in love and adora-
tion," and although Bradley sees "a blessedness" in Tennyson's Mary,20
this latter-day Mary shows such curiosity as to win her way through to a
sufficiently astonishing set of religious discoveries. Not even Mary's and
Lazarus's blunt, more down-to-earth than contemplative sister Martha,
in Joan New's recasting of the Lazarus story (1986), shows any greater
curiosity than Tennyson's Mary about what Lazarus learned on the other
side. For despite deeply empathizing with Lazarus, who grieves over his
sudden loss of heaven, New's Martha implores him to "Forgive me, . .
for I, / Knowing nothing else but life, choose life."21 Carrying Tennyson's
experiential fervor to such a narrow extreme that she leaves out Tenny-
son's rich-experiential desire for otherworldly knowledge, New's Martha
chooses not even to inquire how the life she clings to might bear on, if not
be made more abundant by, the "life" that lies ahead. Thus, even as New's
poem shares in Tennyson's empirical "spirit," it skillfully and insightfully
measures our distance from his spiritual "empiricism."
In view of the yearning for immediate revelation in section 31, to say
nothing of the other evangelical idioms in In Memoriam, it may seem odd
that nowhere does the elegy mention the Holy Spirit by name. Section 36,
however, envisions Christ as acting in the present:

Tho' truths in manhood darkly join,
Deep-seated in our mystic frame,
We yield all blessing to the name
Of Him that made them current coin;
(36. i-4; my italics)

Thus the evangelicals' blend of Christ and the Holy Spirit enables Tenny-
son's boldest theology to develop. The poet draws on spiritual theology as
well as on Christology to depict the continuing influence of Hallam, from
whom a spirit of forgiveness Christ-like in manner and pneumatological in
immediacy emanates long after his death.
Tennyson worries that, as measured by his verses, his love for Hallam
must be deemed imperfect: "I cannot love thee as I ought" (52. ). After


59





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


creeping "like a guilty thing" to the door of Hallam's house on hearing of
his death (7.7-8), the poet dreams that he is torn between maidens on the
one hand and Hallam's statue on the other (see section 103), indicating that
Tennyson may have in mind his homoerotic feelings for Hallam. Whatever
the cause of his guilt, however, Hallam's still-active spirit is graciously
Arminian, for Hallam is now "The Spirit of true love" (52.6), as though
the Holy Spirit and he were one. Functioning as the Comforter, Hallam
now speaks to Tennyson in explicitly Wesleyan terms of assurance:

"Thou canst not move me from thy side,
Nor human frailty do me wrong.

"What keeps a spirit wholly true
To that ideal which he bears?
What record? not the sinless years
That breathed beneath the Syrian blue;

"So fret not like an idle girl,
That life is dash'd with flecks of sin.
Abide, thy wealth is gathered in,
When Time hath sunder'd shell from pearl."
(52.7-16)

(See the literary as well as theological importance of Wesley's doctrine
of assurance.22) Whatever sins were committed are thus forgiven, and it
is worth noting in this connection that the spiritual, distinct from any
psychosexual, dimension of section 103 underlies the peculiar conclusion
of the section, in which the statue of Hallam comes to life and, like the
forgiving spirit of God, welcomes both Tennyson and the maidens into a
full, a spiritual as well as physical, mutual fellowship.
Hallam's spirit as agent/manifestation/successor of the Third Person is
not just far from dead but even perpetually efficacious in a world to which
it constitutes further dispensations of faith/divinity. Tennyson's spiritual
theology carries the evangelical emphasis on the Holy Spirit to a logical ex-
treme (see my discussion of that emphasis 23). Tennyson, speculating about
the long life that he and Hallam might have had together, imagines that
after "hovering o'er the dolorous strait / To the other shore," the two of
them would have arrived at the "blessed goal" of heaven where "He that
died in Holy Land" would have reachede] us out the shining hand" and


6o





EVANGELICAL PRINCIPLES


taken[] us as a single soul" (84.39-44). Thus Tennyson makes a sharp
distinction between Hallam and Christ; Tennyson next asks, however, as
though any hope of Christ were a weak reed indeed (compared with hope
of Hallam), "What reed was that on which I leant?" (84.45). In an even
bolder passage, Hallam, by the same token of earthly spiritual experience,
is a still more reliable because a still more present Christ than Christ him-
self. Section 50 ("Be near me when my light is low") is ultimately addressed
to Hallam, type of the Christ-to-be, and while Gerard Manley Hopkins
regrets that neither he nor any other priest-notwithstanding the utmost
tenderness that priests regularly summon for extreme unction-can truly
be "in at the end" for a dying person (I allude to Hopkins's "Felix Randall"
[188o]), Tennyson, in this section, wants Hallam to perform that very
godlike function for him, and thinks that he can. One is reminded here of
Emily Dickinson's hope that, if Jesus cannot be "in at the end" of her life
(I re-use Hopkins's phrase), then perhaps her good friend Susan Gilbert
can (see Vivian Pollak's discussion of Dickinson's Poem 58 24). Even as
Tennyson contemplates his own life's final hour, Hallam's continuing pneu-
matological/parousial capacity puts the poet in the presence of whom he
loves; Hallam as unnamed addressee of section 50 makes for an especially
subtle sense of coalescence or interpenetration between Tennyson's per-
sona and the more than human, as well as the fully human, subject of In
Memoriam.
Hallam, then, is described evangelically. His probity, for example,
proves especially infectious:

On thee the loyal-hearted hung,
The proud was half disarm'd of pride,
Nor cared the serpent at thy side
To flicker with his double tongue.
(IIo.5-8)

He is loved, moreover, for particular Christian reasons:

While I, thy nearest, sat apart,
And felt thy triumph was as mine;
And loved them more, that they were thine,
The graceful tact, the Christian art;
(110o.13-16)





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


Although he does not preach, as did his fellow Cambridge Apostle F. D.
Maurice, and even as does Tennyson in his more kerygmatic moods, the
Hallam of In Memoriam seeks to bring about a third apostolic age, the
second being that of Wesley and Edwards. Exemplifying Arminian free
will, the fruits of the Spirit, enthusiasm as honorifically understood, and,
not least, a spiritual sense of personal relationship with God, Hallam is
quintessentially evangelical:

A willing ear
We lent him. Who but hung to hear
The rapt oration flowing free

From point to point, with power and grace
And music in the bounds of law,
To those conclusions when we saw
The God within him light his face ... ?
(87.30-36)

(See my study of these particular congeries of evangelical traits.25) Tenny-
son believes that Hallam would have made his mark as a political leader,
that is, as "A potent voice of Parliament" (113. 11) or even as "A lever to
uplift the earth / And roll it in another course" (113. 15-16), but Tenny-
son's diction for the particular kind of social justice that Hallam would
have represented is explicitly evangelical: "A life in civic action warm, / A
soul on highest mission sent" (113.9-10; my italics).
What is commonly said about Tennyson, that he was to be "the awakener
of a new Albion, the poet-prophet of the good society to come," 26 could
be said, too, of John Wesley and, with regard to America, of Jonathan
Edwards. This parallel is hardly arbitrary. Entire dimensions of In Memo-
riam, and not just its portraiture of Hallam, emerge as derivations of and
withdrawals from the evangelical legacy that the eighteenth century passed
on to the nineteenth. "Whatever was the immediate prompting of In Memo-
riam, whatever the form under which the author represented his aim to
himself," the deepest significance of the poem, according to George Eliot,
is its "sanctification of human love as a religion." 27 It is a short step from
her view to the argument of C. F. G. Masterman that Tennyson admired
Christianity primarily for its consistency with humanism and morality.28
Peltason concludes that "Tennyson's faith is not a religious faith" so much


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EVANGELICAL PRINCIPLES


as "a faith in psychic integrity, in historical coherence, in the possibility of
community." 29 These emphases on sanctification, love, good works, this-
worldliness, and a balance between individualism and social consciousness,
however, are especially consistent with the Arminian evangelicalism that
I have sought to portray here as one of the most heady ingredients of
Tennyson's vision at midcareer.
Other efforts than mine, of course, have historically grounded Tenny-
son's faith. Jerome H. Buckley, for example, describing an especially wide
arc of Christianity, relates the faith of Tennyson to the faiths of Pascal,
Newman, and Kierkegaard:

[Tennyson's] faith, which . .rests on the premise of feeling, re-
sembles that of Pascal, who likewise trusted the reason of the heart
which reason could not know. Its source, like the ground of New-
man's assent, is psychological rather than logical, the will of the
whole man rather than a postulate of the rational faculty. And in its
development, it is frequently not far removed from Kierkegaardian
"existentialism," which similarly balances the demands of the inner
life against the claims of nineteenth-century "knowledge." 30

Tennyson, however, is even more specifically indebted to the Broad Church
theology of F. D. Maurice and others.3' Notice, for example, these latitu-
dinarian/tolerant/"relativist," yet still Christian lines from the prologue:

Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, 0 Lord, art more than they.
(lines 17-20)

Pointing to such Broad Church analogues to In Memoriam as John Keble's
The Christian Year (1827), Julius and Augustus Hare's Guesses at Truth
(1829), F. D. Maurice's The Kingdom of Christ (1838), and even Coleridge's
Aids to Reflection (1825), Culler comments at helpful length:

In The Kingdom of Christ Maurice distinguishes between system and
method, two words which many people take to be synonymous but
which seem to him "not only not synonymous, but the greatest con-
traries imaginable: the one indicating that which is most opposed to


63





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


life, freedom, variety; and the other that without which they cannot
exist." "Method" is Coleridge's term, in The Friend, Aids to Reflec-
tion, and the Essay on Method; "system" might be predicated of his
opposite, Bentham. The terms are, indeed, useful for making distinc-
tions throughout the century. Arnold was interested in the "method
and secret of Jesus" and was criticized by Frederic Harrison for not
having "a philosophy with coherent, interdependent, subordinate,
and derivative principles." Maurice himself might be distinguished
from Herbert Spencer as a man of method rather than system. In
Memoriam is certainly an unsystematic poem but it is not an unme-
thodical one.32

These comments are fully understandable along clear lines of my interest
in evangelical method.
Tennyson, after all, considered entitling In Memoriam "The Way of the
Soul" (my italics). This name, like the poem itself and, for that matter, like
the Broad Church Movement, harks back to Methodism, broadly under-
stood as the mainstream American as well as British-the mainstream
experiential-Edwardsean as well as Arminian-Wesleyan-evangelicalism
of the eighteenth century. Tennyson's "heat of inward evidence," his know-
ing beyond reason or intuition (I refer to Tennyson's "The Two Voices"
[1833], line 248), informs his poetry as early as "Armageddon" (1824), in
which, at the age of fifteen, he records his "dissociation and mystical com-
munion." 33 His "religion," however, during the composition of In Memo-
riam from 1833 to 1850-that is, during the years of his greatest "soul-
competency" (the term belongs to the late, but still-influential, Moderate
of the Southern Baptist faith E. Y. Mullins)-became less subjective and
more orthodox, because less mystical and more evangelical, than before.
(See Harold Bloom's discussion of the post-Tennysonian, Late Romantic
character of Mullins's Arminian-evangelical religious imagination.34)


64








FOUR


Philosophical Theology





The tension/opposition of In Memoriam's empirical-evangelical dialectic is
perhaps best illustrated by the well-known rhetorical question of section
56 (the feminine pronoun refers to nature):
And he, shall he,
Man, her last work, who seem'd so fair,
Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
Who roll'd the psalm to wintry skies,
Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,
Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law-
Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek'd against his creed-
Who loved, who suffered countless ills,
Who battled for the True, the Just,
Be blown about the desert dust,
Or seal'd within the iron hills?
(56.8-20)
"Yes" is the implied answer, poignant as well as bitter. While the poet re-
members religion with an idealistic, tender nostalgia, he grasps even more
vividly the opposite truth of an empiricism tough-mindedly evolutionary
in tone. Here Nature is essence, whereas religion seems merely part of
shifting, insubstantial culture. However, that nature is apparently the only


65





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


reality is so dissatisfying to the poet that, more intently than nostalgically,
he reconsiders religion and makes it the possible leavening of and not just
the antidote to such harsh vision.
The final sentence of section 35, for example, suggests that faith in
an afterlife, however ill-founded, is nothing less than what one needs to
support this life, that is, to make it civil:

If Death were seen
At first as Death, Love had not been,
Or been in narrowest working shut,

Mere fellowship of sluggish moods,
Or in his coarsest Satyr-shape
Had bruised the herb and crush'd the grape,
And bask'd and batten'd in the woods.
(35.18-24)
Without hope of immortality, our life is "as a beast's," or to paraphrase
Tennyson's burst of poetry in another Shakespearean way, "love is not
love"2 which occurs in exclusively natural experience. A love devoid of
spiritual hope, according to Tennyson as well as Shakespeare, is only lust,
violence, indulgence, and an "expense of spirit in a waist of shame." 1 Thus
Tennyson's sense-orientation is far from extending to decadence. In "The
Two Voices," he doubts whether human effort can ever derive sufficient
encouragement simply from the hope of empirical knowledge alone:

"'T were better not to breathe or speak
Than cry for strength remaining weak,
And seem to find, but still to seek.
(lines 94-96)

This doubt haunts In Memoriam, especially in the implication of section 35
that the reality supplementary to evolutionary empiricism is faith.
Where the poem's faith is as real as its empiricism, the gulf between
them can still seem yawning if not unbridgeable. In section 41 Tennyson
does not doubt that Hallam enjoys an afterlife, but he worries that Hallam
lies beyond any continuing contact with the living:

Yet oft when sundown skirts the moor
An inner trouble I behold,


66





PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY


A spectral doubt which makes me cold,
That I shall be thy mate no more,

Though following with an upward mind
The wonders that have come to thee,
(41.17-22)

An air of defiance, like that of Tithonus, prefers earth to heaven de-
spite Tennyson's admission of heaven's superiority (41.22). Hallam has not
changed into something "rich and strange," as in Shakespeare's evocation
of wonder and grace in the afterlife, but into something merely foreign or
alien, of which Tennyson wants no part.
His tone extends to section 47, where Hallam himself prefers earth to
heaven:

He seeks at least

Upon the last and sharpest height,
Before the spirits fade away,
Some landing-place, to clasp and say,
"Farewell! We lose ourselves in light."
(47.12-16)

Hallam's farewell to earth could be read as triumphant in that, as spirits
fade from earthly sight into the light of heaven with no darkness of either
doubt or partial knowledge, all becomes illumination. Seeking to prolong
his last moments on earth, however, Hallam grasps at anything to keep
him from the blazing, blinding, frightening unknown. In this connection
one thinks of Robert Frost's similar emphasis on the tangible as the real
in "To Earthward." One feels all the more sympathy for Hallam because,
at the junction between his beloved familiar world and his as yet unloved
destination, he disappears before one's very eyes. One thinks, too, of the
similarly poignant disappearance of the baseball heroes of yesteryear in
the recent movie Field of Dreams, where the heroes fade "unseen" into the
"alien corn" of Iowa (pace Keats).4
The best of what is known on earth, then, should be replicated in
heaven. In Kant's Critique of Practical Reason (1788), he "made immortality
a postulate of the practical reason," and his teleologicall argument" that
"immortality is necessary for man to realize the full potentiality of his


67






THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


spiritual nature . became the standard argument in the nineteenth cen-
tury."5 Thus "it was not Eternity" that Tennyson desired "but an eternity
of continual progress."6 Perhaps the nearest analogue to Tennyson's view
of heaven is that of Richard Whately in A View of the Scripture Revelations
concerning a Future State (1829). Whately vehemently opposes the idea

that the heavenly life will be one of inactivity, and perfectly sta-
tionary,-that there will be nothing to be done,-nothing to be
learnt,-no advances to be made;-nothing to be hoped for,-noth-
ing to look forward to, except a continuance in the very state in
which the blest will be placed at once. Now this also, is far from
being an alluring view, to minds constituted as ours are. It is im-
possible for us to contemplate such a state . without an idea of
tediousness and wearisomeness forcing itself upon them. The ideas
of change, -hope, -progress, -improvement, -acquirement, -action, -
are so intimately connected with all our conceptions of happiness ...
that it is next to impossible for us to separate them.7

Tennyson, accordingly, moves to the intriguing thought that the processes
of the afterlife may not differ in kind from those of nature. Section 82
blames death, not for translating Hallam into something different but
for keeping his still earth-like experience from intersecting with the still-
earthly experience of Tennyson:

For this alone on Death I wreak
The wrath that garners in my heart:
He put our lives so far apart
We cannot hear each other speak.
(82. 13-16)

Section 82 states flatly that Hallam will continue to do as he has always
done:

Nor blame I Death, because he bare
The use of virtue out of earth;
I know transplanted human worth
Will bloom to profit, otherwhere.
(82.9-12)


68






PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY


This idea is thoroughly anticipated, thoroughly prepared for by section
64, which imagines that Hallam, from the heavenly perspective, reflects
on what his earthly past could have been like:

Dost thou look back on what hath been,
As some divinely gifted man,
Whose life in low estate began
And on a simple village green;

Who breaks his birth's invidious bar,
And grasps the skirts of happy chance,
And breasts the blows of circumstance,
And grapples with his evil star;

Who makes by force his merit known
And lives to clutch the golden keys,
To mould a mighty state's decrees,
And shape the whisper of the throne;

And moving up from high to higher,
Becomes on Fortune's crowning slope
The pillar of a people's hope,
The centre of a world's desire; . ?
(64. I-I6)

It is as though heavenly existence forms an analogue to, if not a continuum
with, earthly existence. "As some divinely gifted man" is only a simile,
but quatrains 2, 3, and 4 do more than analogize. They imply that the
experience of the self-made man who proceeds from step to step toward
the pinnacle or power of an almost charismatic leadership deeply resembles
heavenly experience. Heavenly psychology remains essentially Lockean.
The fifth quatrain speculates that Hallam

Yet feels, as in a pensive dream,
When all his active powers are still,
A distant dearness in the hill,
A secret sweetness in the stream,
(64. 17-20)


69






THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


Thus he still cherishes, still identifies with even the lowliest sense experi-
ence, for "yet" not only denotes his nostalgia for earthly existence but also
connotes his heavenly reliving of it.
Section 117, where Tennyson thinks of joining Hallam, conceives of
no better way to imagine heaven than through such temporal dimensions
as astronomical science, the industrial revolution, and sense experience.
"When we meet," declares the poet, "delight a hundredfold" will "accrue"
for every "grain of sand that runs," every "span of shade that steals," every
"kiss of toothed wheels," and "all the courses of the suns" (117.7-12). Thus
abandoning simile altogether, he envisions a full-scale, heavenly "empiri-
cism" in which even what Blake would call the "dark" or "Satanic" "mills"
of the industrial revolution8 are far from resembling the dehumanizing
convolutions of "wheels within wheels" (see the imagery in the Book of
Ezekiel). Friedrich von Schiller describes these convolutions in Letters on the
Aesthetic Education of Man: "Everlastingly chained to a single little fragment
of the whole, man himself develops into nothing but a fragment; everlast-
ingly in his ear the monotonous sound of the wheel that he turns, he never
develops the harmony of his being, and instead of putting the stamp of
humanity upon his own nature, he becomes nothing more than the imprint
of his occupation or of his specialized knowledge." 9 The toothed wheels of
Tennyson's heavenly mills, in contrast, are celestial precisely because they
constitute impressive, systematic products of his inductive imagination.
Compare, for example, his honorific imagery with the similarly heavenly
industrial imagery with which Wordsworth praises his wife, Mary, in "She
Was a Phantom of Delight" (1804): "And now I see with eye serene /
The very pulse of the machine" (lines 21-22). Thus in the context of In
Memoriam, as well as in In Memoriam itself, mills are seen as symbols less
of industrial squalor than of an experiential perfection as divine as earthly.
Earthly and heavenly experiences can be so conceivably similar as to
intersect, or so, at least, section 38 implies:

If any care for what is here
Survive in spirits rendered free,
Then are these songs I sing of thee
Not all ungrateful to thine ear.
(38.9-12)


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PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY


Thus Hallam, along with Queen Victoria and many of her subjects (not
to mention many Americans),'1 remains a sharp-eared auditor to In Memo-
riam in the first flush of its publishing success. A corresponding point
emerges from section 65, which states flatly that, despite Hallam's death,
the experiences of Tennyson and Hallam continue to be mutual or two-way:

Since we deserved the name of friends,
And thine effect so lives in me,
A part of mine may live in thee
And move thee on to noble ends.
(65.9-12)

With regard to his ongoing relationship with Hallam, Tennyson's em-
phasis lies ultimately on its more earthly than heavenly setting. Section
63, much as one might pray for the ministrations of the Holy Spirit, begs
Hallam to condescend. Just as the poet's persona in 63. I-8 expresses his
concern for horses and dogs (see Wesley's kindness to animals, which led
him to entertain the idea of their afterlife 1), so he implores Hallam to take
pity on the poet himself:

So mayst thou watch me where I weep,
As, unto vaster motions bound,
The circuits of thine orbit round
A higher height, a deeper deep.
(63.9-12)

In this connection one might understand the ambiguity of two quatrains
from section 42:

And so may Place retain us still,
And he the much-beloved again,
A lord of large experience, train
To riper growth the mind and will;

And what delights can equal those
That stir the spirit's inner deeps,
When one that loves, but knows not, reaps
A truth from one that loves and knows?
(42.5-12)


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THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


Place, capitalized, implies heaven. The quatrains may mean, therefore, that
when Tennyson joins Hallam in heaven, the two will continue to change
and develop as they did on earth. A more intriguing meaning, however, is
that Hallam will reach down from the perspective of his "large experience"
in heaven and increase from natural to spiritual the experience of Tenny-
son on earth. By this interpretation, Place refers to an earth transfused by
heaven. Thus ambiguity allows for the congruency of nature with spirit.
Tennyson's empiricism, his bias toward being in the presence of whom he
loves, leads him to will Hallam's descent to earth. This marked determi-
nation contrasts with Shelley's determination in Adonais (1821) to place
himself in the empyrean with Keats.
Tennyson's desire to bring Hallam back to earth, distinct from his desire
to join him in heaven, helps explain one of the most beautiful lyrics of the
poem. Lying in bed and meditating on the moonlight, Tennyson thinks,
lugubriously enough, of Hallam in the tomb:

When on my bed the moonlight falls,
I know that in thy place of rest
By that broad water of the west
There comes a glory on the walls:

Thy marble bright in dark appears,
As slowly steals a silver flame
Along the letters of thy name,
And o'er the number of thy years.

The mystic glory swims away,
From off my bed the moonlight dies;
And closing eaves of wearied eyes
I sleep till dusk is dipt in gray;

And then I know the mist is drawn
A lucid veil from coast to coast,
And in the dark church like a ghost
Thy tablet glimmers to the dawn.
(67.1-16)

These lines, like the two quatrains from section 42, evince double meaning.
They evoke, on the one hand, the natural course of the moon's movement,


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PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY


a natural night's sleep that "knits up the ravelled sleeve of care," 12 the
natural promise of the sun's rise, and the natural genres of epithalamium
and aubade. By the same token of these experiential criteria, however-
that is, despite or because of this suggestion of this natural idiom-the
spiritual diction of glory and ghost creates the wonderful effect of the moon's
light as a spiritual influence that would resurrect Hallam to the new day,
the fresh start of a distinctly millennialist as opposed to simply heavenly
expectation.
In Memoriam's view of earth and heaven, then, is that they are always
related and sometimes intersecting. Tennyson's understanding of this rela-
tionship is especially distinctive and bold in its determinedly empirical
language and meaning. Death, one might say, gives reason and resonance
to life; one must "love that well" which one must "leave ere long." 13 The
late twentieth-century reader may not fret or speculate about, nor even
much need to believe in, an afterlife, for as long ago as 1902 the doctrine
of immortality could seem so "secondary;" in William James's term, that
James did not include it in The Varieties of Religious Experience. Tennyson,
though, finds such belief essential; he said to Edward Fitzgerald in the
spring of 1842, "I would rather know I was to be damned eternally than
not to know that I was to live eternally." 14 Early deciding that "life shall
live for evermore" (In Memoriam, 34.2), Tennyson goes on to express his
characteristic theme that without the hope of life everlasting, earthly life
would not be worth living:

'Twere best at once to sink to peace,
Like birds the charming serpent draws,
To drop head-foremost in the jaws
Of vacant darkness and to cease.
(34.13-16)
The poet does not expend as much effort in proving the afterlife, which for
him is simply a given, as in describing it. Thus he keeps to his empirical/
observational premises.
The "second birth of death" (45.16), moreover, produces a second-order
experience recognizable from the perspective of and even accessible to natu-
ral experience. Although the light and shadow of sense experience will not
be precisely duplicated in heaven-"no shade can last / In that deep dawn
behind the tomb" (46.5-6)-"clear from marge to marge shall bloom /


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THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


The eternal landscape of the past" (46.7-8). What characterizes heavenly
life is what characterizes earthly life too. Both kinds of living are under-
standable to Tennyson from the full Lockean perspective of a sweeping
picture of all that has happened.
Heaven would not be worthwhile without an earthly love itself "heav-
enly" in nature, or so Tennyson's focus on such love implies. The five years
shared by him and Hallam suggest that earthly existence contains the
promise of at once a paradise within and a paradise without, that is, of a
spiritual paradise regained in the world of nature:

A lifelong tract of time revealed,
The fruitful hours of still increase;
Days ordered in a wealthy peace,
And those five years its richest field.
(46.9-12)
This "paradise" writ large-that is, for all practical purposes heavenly
indeed-is all one needs to know of heaven itself. Love, "a brooding
star, / A rosy warmth from marge to marge" (46. 15-16), is transcenden-
tal. In taking on finite form-"O Love, thy province were not large, / A
bounded field, nor stretching far" (46. 13-I4)-love suffers no reduction,
no lessening. Not for Tennyson, therefore, is any notion of the afterlife as
"Remerging in the general Soul," for such faith is "as vague as all unsweet"
(47.4-3). Rather, the poet "shall know" Hallam "when we meet," and
"we shall sit at endless feast, / Enjoying each the other's good" (47.8-io).
Thus the afterlife revivifies the separate, corporeal identities who have
engaged in and will continue to engage in intersubjective communion, or
subject-object interaction. In this sense, intercourse occurs in heaven. "It
has been asserted by some," observes Whately, "that in heavenly society,
there will be no mutual knowledge between those who had been friends on
earth; nor even any such thing as friendship towards one person more than
another." 15 This idea, too, Whately finds "not very alluring." Tennyson,
for his own empirical-experiential reasons, would wholeheartedly agree.
One infers a more detailed conception of the afterlife from In Memoriam,
then, than from any other Western work, with the possible exception of
Dante's Paradiso. This trait is all the more remarkable in that such rarefied
tones of the nineteenth century as act 4 of Shelley's Prometheus Unbound


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PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY


(1820) are generally sustained more through utopian means than through
millennial-paradisal ones.
Empirical-evangelical methodology informs not only the relation be-
tween heaven and earth but also the emphasis on earthly experience alone
in In Memoriam. "Among the Apostles," writes Buckley, Tennyson found
"a reflection of his own religious doubts, his distrust of dogma, and at the
same time a confirmation of his reliance upon direct intuitions of meaning,
the rediscovery of spiritual values through the sort of personal experience
that ultimately would give him both as man and artist his only real cer-
tainty." 16 Accordingly, much of what is commonly said about Tennyson can
be understood as getting at his particular combination of skeptical method
with spiritual quest. Boyd-Carpenter's comments about Tennyson's almost
science-oriented religious views are a case in point: "He distrusted nar-
row views from whatever side they were advanced. The same spirit which
led him to see the danger of the dogmatic temper in so-called orthodox
circles led him to distrust it when it came from other quarters. There was
a wholesome balance about his mind." 17 For Tennyson, as for Wesley and
Edwards and even as for Locke in his more religious moods, skepticism
is not a static state of unbelief but a method or process of knowing that
allows one to keep the data of one's empirical experience and at the same
time to keep open, however barely, one's access to faith.
"When I remarked that God did not take away men till their work
was done," Boyd-Carpenter continues, "[Tennyson] said, 'He does; look
at the promising young fellows cut off.'" Tennyson's skepticism, though
dynamic, never quite lets this particular empirical datum go. In Memo-
riam never underestimates, and even directly confronts, what Wordsworth
calls "the worst pang that sorrow ever bore," 18 namely, deep personal be-
reavement. Here, from Tennyson's account of his initial desolation, are
undoubtedly more courage and vitality than mere morbid self-indulgence:

Let Love clasp Grief lest both be drowned,
Let darkness keep her raven gloss;
Ah, sweeter to be drunk with loss,
To dance with Death, to beat the ground,

Than that the victor Hours should scorn
The long result of love, and boast,


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THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


"Behold the man that loved and lost,
But all he was is overthrown."
(1.9-16)

If these lines should sound like the early stages of psychological grief as
"scientifically" understood by Elizabeth Kiibler-Ross, who focuses on grief
over one's own mortality, they finally sound even more like Job's initial
response to his sorrow. Job's tough-minded resilience, what Byron would
have called his "vitality of poison," 19 leads Job inexorably, albeit by fits and
starts, to a faith all the deeper for his having taken account of and included
his harrowing experience. The persona here seems reduced to nothing,
seems to have nothing but the love on which the poem is based and which
deepens and grows as the poem progresses, and is preserved by passing
through rather than skirting the valley of the shadow of death. Tennyson's
love soon causes him to ask, "'Is this the end of all my care?' / . / 'Is
this the end? Is this the end?'" (12. 14-16); and although these repeated
questions find no quick answers, they imply by their insistence that death
is not and cannot be the end (see Job 14 and 19). These questions, though
unglib, remain intently open as well as persistently searching.
An especially illuminating epitome of Tennyson's skeptical stance is to
be found in the kinetic first two quatrains of section 23:

Now, sometimes in my sorrow shut,
Or breaking into song by fits,
Alone, alone, to where he sits,
The Shadow cloaked from head to foot,

Who keeps the keys of all the creeds,
I wander, often falling lame,
And looking back to whence I came,
Or on to where the pathway leads;
(23. I-8)

Although the persona does not know the secrets of the creeds, he is far from
denying that such creeds exist, or even that they may be true. Although
he alternates between the highs and lows of his search for truth, he never
stops pursuing truth. In the present, as in the past and future, he remains
open to whatever he might learn, even from the place of death. He seems


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PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY


more hopeful than Browning's persona in "Childe Roland to the Dark
Tower Came" (1855), for Browning's poem never "breaks into song" and,
unlike these lines from In Memoriam, seems almost cocksure that there are
no secrets to learn either from the shadow of death or from the shades of
the departed.
Another instance of Tennyson's dynamic skepticism is to be found in
section 29, where, "With such compelling cause to grieve / As daily vexes
household peace," the persona intriguingly keeps[] our Christmas-eve"
(29. 1-2, 4) despite his disinclination to do so:

Yet go, and while the holly boughs
Entwine the cold baptismal font,
Make one wreath more for Use and Wont,
That guard the portals of the house;

Old sisters of a day gone by,
Gray nurses, loving nothing new-
Why should they miss their yearly due,
Before their time? They too will die.
(29.9-16)

The poet, putting up the wreath once more, harbors no illusion of much
longer perpetuating an empty form of faith. His skepticism here is unre-
mitting, relentless. However, although he evinces no apparent fear of the
dangers of ritual such as are outlined, for example, in "The Lottery" (1948)
by Shirley Jackson, and although at the other extreme he hardly believes
with Yeats that "innocence and beauty" are born only "in custom and in
ceremony," 20 he takes a compromise view of custom, that is, the Humean
view of it as the great rule or determiner of life. Despite the frequent
mindlessness of habit and despite the poet's yearning for a revelation that
will free him from mere formularies of faith, custom and habit provide
him with his short-term strategy for managing spiritual crisis. Even going
through the motions of faith serves, if not to support his quest for it, then
simply to pass the time as he awaits its return. Recall, in this connection,
Habakkuk 2 and Milton's "They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Wait"
(ca. 1652). Tennyson, in short, reflects a healthy complacency with regard
to custom, which, as Hume points out, is better than no action at all.


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THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


The open quality of Tennyson's skepticism lends special integrity to his
expressions of faith. A famous utterance from section 55 impressively com-
bines his religious observances with the nervous energy of his questioning:

And falling with my weight of cares
Upon the great world's altar-stairs
That slope through darkness up to God,

I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
And gather dust and chaff, and call
To what I feel is Lord of all,
And faintly trust the larger hope.
(55.14-20)
Another of his strategies for conflating the empirical with the religious,
while equally skeptical in methodology, is more positive, less doubting in
tone. The first quatrain of the prologue, the last part of In Memoriam to be
written, declares authoritatively that "Believing where we cannot prove"
we embrace Christ "By faith, and faith alone" (lines 3-4). Such phrasing is
opposed, say, to "always believing rather than ever proving." The phrasing
suggests a harmonious, or at any rate unproblematic, relationship between
science on the one hand and experiential faith on the other. Although "By
faith, and faith alone" evokes the Calvinist/Arminian controversy over faith
versus works, and although this phrase is thus unmistakably evangelical in
tone and in import, it is not finally antinomian so much as subtly indicative
of the poet's more Arminian than Calvinist view that, in the sphere of life
and thought, experiential faith takes up where science leaves off.
What enables Tennyson to interrelate scientific evidence on the one hand
and religious conviction on the other is his broad view that experience is
both natural and spiritual. Thus he keeps his empirical knowledge, but
adds to it. He has his cake and eats it too. Consider his exquisite summary
of Lyellian geology:

The hills 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.
(123.5-8)


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PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY


Langbaum rightly calls this "perhaps the most beautiful rendition in En-
glish poetry of a modern scientific theory." 21 The hills to which one looks
for strength and permanence are, as Psalm 121. recognizes, themselves
temporary: "solid" (line 7) is poignantly ironic.
Juxtaposed to this harsh truth, however, is an equally powerful though
infinitely tender truth:

But in my spirit will I dwell,
And dream my dream, and hold it true;
For though my lips may breathe adieu,
I cannot think the thing farewell.
(123.9-12)

The transition between these quatrains is not so abrupt as it may seem. The
second quatrain, by including the internal in the catalogue of experience,
is as experiential as the first. Thus Tennyson, even as he lives, is convinced
of the afterlife. Aware, from one point of view, of the absurdity of think-
ing that a single voice can add significant truth to what Wordsworth calls
"this mighty sum / Of things forever speaking" (see Psalm I9),22 Tennyson
gives pride of place to his spiritual voice, which he thinks of as adding to
the mighty sum of a speaking and hence essentially personal if not divine
reality.
Where Tennyson is first persuaded that "life shall live for evermore"
(34.2), he finds the perennial embodiment of eternal life in a nature inde-
pendent of but correlative to humankind:

This round of green, this orb of flame,
Fantastic beauty; such as lurks
In some wild poet, when he works
Without a conscience or an aim.
(34.5-8)
Toward the end of the poem, at the apex of a composition-experience that
has gradually restored his faith, Tennyson announces that he apprehends
the truth without quite comprehending it: "And what I am beheld again /
What is, and no man understands" (124.21-22). Ascribing this advance to
an external, objective force-"And out of darkness came the hands / That
reach through nature, moulding men" (124.23-24)-the poet refers to a


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THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


pantheistic force, if, that is, one reads "through" to mean "throughout and
confined to" rather than "by means of." (Compare this meaning to Dylan
Thomas's "force that through the green fuse drives the flower / Drives my
green age.") Tennyson makes clear in In Memoriam, 116, however, that the
force is both within and other than nature, for the "songs" of birds, the
"stirring air," and "the life re-orient out of dust" (116.5-6) are all spring-
time signs of theistical agency. They "Cry thro' the sense to hearten trust /
In that which made the world so fair" (II6.7-8).
Such cooperation of nature and spirit if not of empiricism and evangeli-
calism informs a range of characteristic effects in In Memoriam from puns
to loco description. Although nature's indifferent boast that "A thousand
types are gone" (56.3) refers to species impermanence, the word types, at
least, includes religious as well as scientific meaning, and the Evangelical
Anglican sister is a "type," too, a foreshadowing of imminent/immanent
millennium (33. 16). Hallam himself is a "noble type" of the millennial as
well as the evolutionary progress of the human race (epilogue, line 138).
Finally, Tennyson never thinks that poetry should be so otherworldly, so
broadly expatiating as to exclude loco description:

Take wings of fancy, and ascend,
And in a moment set thy face
Where all the starry heavens of space
Are sharpened to a needle's end;

Take wings of foresight; lighten through
The secular abyss to come,
And lo, thy deepest lays are dumb
Before the mouldering of a yew;
(76. i-8)

Although art, as the first six lines suggest, should be general, ideal, ambi-
tious, and visionary, the eight lines taken together mean that even properly
spiritual, properly prophetic poetry should attempt to include within its
ken the objects of nature.
Tennyson, by implying that the cosmic must take account of flux, and
that even a dying yew tree partakes of mystery, implies too that no art
which fails to explain decay, or which fails to value what decays, suffices for
the truth, no matter how supreme the fiction of that art. In this connection


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PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY


one thinks of The Book of Thel (1789-91) by Blake: "Does the Eagle know
what is in the pit, / Or wilt thou go ask the Mole?" Truth lies, for Blake,
in a combination of Mole- and Eagle-knowledge.23 No more than Blake,
accordingly, would Tennyson confine his apperceptions to the spiritual side
of the natural-spiritual dialectic.
Tennyson devotes an especially lovely passage to a pleasing mix of the
chthonic and the sacred, as though the mix, despite his doubting mood at
this early point in the poem, were indicative of the synthesis toward which
he will strive. "Thee" refers to the ship that bears Hallam's body home
from Vienna for burial:

0, to us,
The fools of habit, sweeter seems

To rest beneath the clover sod,
That takes the sunshine and the rains,
Or where the kneeling hamlet drains
The chalice of the grapes of God;

Than if with thee the roaring wells
Should gulf him fathom-deep in brine,
And hands so often clasped in mine,
Should toss with tangle and with shells.
(10.11-20)

This tentative mix of nature description with the bare beginnings of
experiential-sacramental faith becomes a confident blend in two later pas-
sages, sections 86 and 121. The former is pneumatological, the latter
Christological. Each is triumphant. Both passages secure the empirical-
evangelical synthesis of In Memoriam.
As for 121, Christ is associated with the morning star, and Tennyson
builds on this symbolism throughout his awareness of the identity between
morning and evening star.

Sad Hesper o'er the buried sun
And ready, thou, to die with him,
Thou watchest all things ever dim
And dimmer, and a glory done.





THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


The team is loosened from the wain,
The boat is drawn upon the shore;
Thou listenest to the closing door,
And life is darkened in the brain.

Bright Phosphor, fresher for the night,
By thee the world's great work is heard
Beginning, and the wakeful bird;
Behind thee comes the greater light:

The market boat is on the stream,
And voices hail it from the brink;
Thou hear'st the village hammer clink,
And see'st the moving of the team.

Sweet Hesper-Phosphor, double name
For what is one, the first, the last,
Thou, like my present and my past,
Thy place is changed; thou art the same.
(121.1-20)

In 1864 Hopkins wrote that "surely your maturest judgment will never be
fooled out of saying that [this section) is divine, terribly beautiful." 24
In one sense, to be sure, the lyric operates on an exclusively natural
plane. The contrast between the evening and the morning manifestations
of a single star need signify no more than death/birth, winter/summer,
and decay/regeneration. The star, as is indicated by the penultimate line
of the section, may represent Tennyson. He presides over the tragic death
of his friend, but he comes to accept death as natural, and he even takes
legitimate comfort in the fresh day's hope of recurring life.
Just as the natural contrasts with the supernatural, however, so Hesper
contrasts with Phosphor; the morning star, an accordingly strong copres-
ence in the lyric, may signify Christ's gift of resurrection. The fifth qua-
train's reminder that the evening and morning star are the same suggests
the identity of nature with spirit. Thus, in Alistair W. Thomson's phrase,
section 121 reassures us of "a singleness which was always there" in the
poem.25 Hopkins would have especially appreciated Tennyson's implication
that Christ's Alpha and Omega (see Revelation 22.13) encompass earth
and heaven, time and eternity. Tennyson's "Alpha-Omega," his Hesper-


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PHILOSOPHICAL THEOLOGY


Phosphor, seems to guarantee not only identity in time but also the survival
of identity from time to eternity. Finally, the "greater light" may signify
Hallam's more than evangelical supplanting of Christ.
The pneumatological 86, like the Christological 121, should be quoted
in full.

Sweet after showers, ambrosial air,
That rollest from the gorgeous gloom
Of evening over brake and bloom
And meadow, slowly breathing bare

The round of space, and rapt below
Through all the dewy tasselled wood,
And shadowing down the horned flood
In ripples, fan my brows and blow

The fever from my cheek, and sigh
The full new life that feeds thy breath
Throughout my frame, till Doubt and Death,
Ill brethren, let the fancy fly

From belt to belt of crimson seas
On leagues of odor streaming far,
To where in yonder orient star
A hundred spirits whisper "Peace."
(86.I-16)

This single sentence, an almost flamboyant display of enjambment, under-
scores the wholeness, the seamlessness, of natural-spiritual experience.
One cannot but salute again the ability first remarked by John Stuart Mill:
Tennyson described landscapes in accordance with languorous, receptive
states of mind.26 Thus, object impinges on subject in this rich imagining;
auditory, visual, and tactile images abound, creating the synthesis of mat-
ter with mind. Embedded, too, in this romance is the spiritual nuance
of such diction as sweet, ambrosial, rapt, and shadowing. The metaphor of
ruah in "slowly breathing," "sigh," and "feeds thy breath / Throughout my
frame," augurs identity among the atmosphere, the speaker, and the influx
of the Holy Spirit.
Thus the spiritual nuance of 86 is even more pronounced, more tran-


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THE METHOD OF IN MEMORIAL


scendent, than Kincaid recognizes. "Especially in 86," Kincaid writes, but
also in 83 and 88 (which I will discuss), "nature's deep rhythms catch
[Tennyson] up and he feels the elemental breath of life that provides a
'peace' that is alive and vibrant, contrasting with the dead and awful 'calm'
of ii." 27 The final two lines of 86 predict Hopkins's lambent-sacramental
view of nature, his joyous imperative to "Look at the stars! look, look up
at the skies! / 0 look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air."28 Tennyson's
"sigh / The full new life" operates on the finally religious and even evangeli-
cal plane of conversion idiom. Although "ill brethren" represent a distinct
theological problem ("the wages of sin is death" [Romans 6.23a]), the
problem is solved, at least momentarily, by the speaker's transmigration
to and his transfiguration among a fellowship of saints ("the gift of God is
eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" [Romans 6.23b]). Thus Hop-
kins's favorable response to In Memoriam is quite understandable; although
Tennyson is empirical-evangelical and not Catholic, he has progressed from
his doubts about everlasting life to his new-faithful configurationing of
Phosphor-Christ with ruah-Spirit. Such immediacy is perhaps as consistent
with empirical-evangelical sensibility as, say, with the transubstantiating
dimension of Hopkins's Catholicism.
Returning now to the portrait of Hallam, I conclude my overview of the
philosophical theology in In Memoriam. Tennyson asks his brother Charles
not to be vexed by the fact that Hallam is "More than my brothers are to
me" (79.I). Tennyson knows, to be sure, "what force" Charles possesses
"To hold the costliest love in fee" (79.3-4). The natural experiences shared
by the two brothers, moreover, emphasized Lockean nurture: "And hill
and wood and field did print / The same sweet forms in either mind" (79-7-
8). Similarly, their shared spiritual experiences emphasized their mother's
evangelical transmission of traditional revelation:

At one dear knee we proffered vows,
One lesson from one book we learned,
Ere childhood's flaxen ringlet turned
To black and brown on kindred brows.
(79. 3-16)
("Mrs Tennyson," writes Robert Bernard Martin, "was probably more gen-
uinely religious than her melancholy clergyman husband, and she passed on
to Alfred her spirit of reverence." 29 Martin's addition, "although [Alfred]


84