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Biography of Alfred Tennyson

Poet. The Victorians, as a whole, were a generation of fighters. They battled against Nature’s forces, subduing floods and mountain barriers, pestilence and the worst extremes of heat and cold; they also went forth into the market-place and battled with their fellow men for laws, for tariffs, for empire. Their triumphs, like those of the Romans, are mostly to be seen in the practical sphere. But there were others of that day who chose the contemplative life of the recluse, and who yet, by high imaginings, contributed in no less degree to enrich the fame of their age; and among these the first name is that of Alfred Tennyson, the most representative of Victorian poets. His early environment may be said to have marked him out for such a life. He was born in one of the remotest districts of a rural county. The village of Somersby lies in a hollow among the Lincolnshire wolds, twenty miles east of Lincoln, midway between the small towns of Spilsby, Horncastle, and Louth. There are no railways to disturb its peace; no high roads or broad rivers to bring trade to its doors. The ‘cold rivulet’ that rises just above the village flows down some twenty miles to lose itself in the sea near Skegness; in the valley the alders sigh and the aspens quiver, while around are rolling hills covered by long fields of corn broken by occasional spinneys. It is not a country to draw tourists for its own sake; but Tennyson knew, as few other poets know, the charm that human association lends to the simplest English landscape, and...

Biography of Charles Kingsley

Parish Priest. If Charles Kingsley had been born in Scandinavia a thousand years earlier, one more valiant Viking would have sailed westward from the deep fiords of his native home to risk his fortunes in a new world, one who by his courage, his foresight, and his leadership of men was well fitted to be captain of his bark. The lover of the open-air life, the searcher after knowledge, the fighter that he was, he would have been in his element, foremost in the fray, most eager in the quest. But it was given to him to live in quieter times, to graft on the Old Norse stock the graces of modern culture and the virtues of a Christian; and in a peaceful parish of rural England he found full scope for his gifts. There he taught his own and succeeding generations how full and beneficent the life of a parish priest can be. Our villages and towns produced many notable types of rector in the nineteenth century, Keble, Hawker, Hook, Robertson, Dolling, and scores of others; but none touched life at more points, none became so truly national a figure as Charles Kingsley in his Eversley home. His father was of an old squire family; like his son he was a clergyman, a naturalist, and a sportsman. His mother, a Miss Lucas, came from Barbados; and while she wrote poetry with feeling and skill, she had also a practical gift of management. His father’s calling involved several changes of residence. Those, which had most influence on his son, were his removal in 1824 to Barnack, on the edge...

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