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LEST misunderstanding should arise, it is perhaps as well that I should explain at the outset that I have not attempted to supply a biography of the late Lord Tennyson. I have given prominence to his literary career, and preference to those facts which illustrated the literary side of his character. Believing, as I do, in the far-reaching and permanent effects of early environment, I have recounted with some detail the events of Tennyson's youth; but in succeeding chapters I have only casually caught up the main threads of his personal history.
Each chapter is a separate and complete study of some phase of Tennyson's work, and I have particularly endeavoured to deal adequately with his religion, philosophy, and politics. Some doubtful points I hope to have set at rest by undertaking original investigations and by careful reference to standard authorities. The criticisms of Tennyson's contemporaries, especially those of his youth, are quoted at some length because of their interest and value.
I have not, however, deemed it necessary in a work of this kind to repeat for the thousandth time the “small talk" of which great men are so often the victims; and I must ask pardon in advance of those readers who do not find in these pages a full and true account of Tennyson's sayings and doings in private life. Nearly every poem he published is referred to, and every important public act of his life is chronicled, while I have not hesitated in some half
dozen cases to repeat a story which illustrates his methods and his character. By giving as many specimens of Tennyson's poetry as would be allowable I have hoped to re-kindle old enthusiasms and arouse new admirers. But those who desire to read about the tobacco he smoked, the hats he wore, and the beer or wine he drank at dinner, must turn to those volumes where such unconsidered trifles are held to be worthy of chronicling. I have excluded parodies also—even the clever ones of Mr Swinburne, Sir Theodore Martin, and the late C. S. Calverley; for I agree with Sir Arthur Helps, that he who makes a parody lacks reverence. And it is in love and reverence that these pages have been prepared, and whatever their demerits, the pleasure of writing them remains.