Tennyson's 'Stupidity' in the Political Poems

James R. Kincaid, Aerol Arnold Professor of English, University of Southern California

Note 3 to the Appendix of the author's Tennyson's Major Poems, which Yale University Press published in 1975. It has been included in the Victorian Web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright.

This is not to deny the testimony of contemporaries like Thackeray, who said that Tennyson was "the wisest man he knew" (Memoir, I:419). It is likely, I think, that Thackermy was using the word wisdom in a very Tennysonian (and nineteenth-centruy) sense, referring not to his capacity for conceptual, analytical thought but to his more intuitive and imaginative powers.
The best discussions of Tennyson's political views are by Joseph Solimine and by Robert Preyer. For a general defense of the Political poems, see G. Wilson Knight.

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Last modified: 28 March 2001