Thy converse drew us with delight,
The men of rathe and riper years:
The feeble soul, a haunt of fears,
Forgot his weakness in thy sight.
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.
The stern were mild when thou wert by,
The flippant put himself to school
And heard thee, and the brazen fool
Was soften’d, and he knew not why;
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;
Nor mine the sweetness or the skill,
But mine the love that will not tire,
And, born of love, the vague desire
That spurs an imitative will.
Again, I suppose Hallam’s influence was less obvious than this, and yet, having known some decent people, my doubt is more about Tennyson’s presentation, than the effect of Hallam’s goodness. “The stern were mild…….the flippant out himself to school etc. “ are a little too neat perhaps.
But I do not doubt that Tennyson felt his life enriched and challenged by his friend’s qualities; and I like the modesty of his “vague desire/ that spurs an imitative will.” It was especially when my daughter took up my trade of pastor and preacher, that I recognised in her gifts greater than my own, from which I could learn, her story-telling and her compassion.