The poetical works of Matthew Arnold

The poetical works of Matthew Arnold  (1897) 
by Matthew Arnold






NEW YORK: 46 East 14th Street


BOSTON: 100 Purchase Street

Copyright, 1897,

Norwood Press
J. S. Cushing & Co.—Berwick & Smith
Norwood Mass. U.S.A.


Note viii
Biographical Introduction ix
Bibliography xxiii
Quiet Work 1
To a Friend 2
Shakspeare 2
Written in Emerson's Essays 3
Written in Butler's Sermons 3
To the Duke of Wellington 4
In Harmony with Nature 5
To George Cruikshank 5
To a Republican Friend, 1848 6
Continued 7
Religious Isolation 7
Mycerinus 8
The Church of Brou:—
I. The Castle 12
II. The Church 16
III. The Tomb 18
A Modern Sappho 19
Requiescat 21
Youth and Calm 22
A Memory-Picture 23
The New Sirens 25
The Voice 34
Youth's Agitations 36
The World's Triumphs 36
Stagirius 37
Human Life 39
To a Gypsy Child by the Seashore 40
A Question 43
In Utrumque Paratus 43
The World and the Quietist 45
The Second Best 46
Consolation 47
Resignation 49
A Dream 58
Horatian Echo 59
Sohrab and Rustum 61
The Sick King in Bokhara 88
Balder Dead:—
I. Sending 96
II. Journey to the Dead 106
III. Funeral 116
Tristram and Iseult:—
I. Tristram 133
II. Iseult of Ireland 145
III. Iseult of Brittany 152
Saint Brandan 159
The Neckan 162
The Forsaken Merman 164
Austerity of Poetry 169
A Picture at Newstead 169
Rachel: I., II., III. 170
Worldly Place 172
East London 172
West London 173
East and West 173
The Better Part 174
The Divinity 174
Immortality 175
The Good Shepherd with the Kid 175
Monica's Last Prayer 176
I. Meeting 177
II. Parting 178
III. A Farewell 181
IV. Isolation. To Marguerite 184
V. To Marguerite. Continued 185
VI. Absence 186
VII. The Terrace at Berne 187
The Strayed Reveller 189
Fragment of an "Antigone" 199
Fragment of Chorus of a "Dejaneira" 203
Early Death and Fame 204
Philomela 204
Urania 206
Euphrosyne 207
Calais Sands 208
Faded Leaves:—
I. The River 209
II. Too Late 210
III. Separation 210
IV. On the Rhine 211
V. Longing 211
Despondency 212
Self-Deception 212
Dover Beach 213
Growing Old 215
The Progress of Poesy 216
Pis Aller 216
The Last Word 217
A Nameless Epitaph 217
Empedocles on Etna 218
Bacchanalia; or, the New Age 256
Epilogue to Lessing's Laocoön 260
Persistency of Poetry 266
A Caution to Poets 266
The Youth of Nature 267
The Youth of Man 271
Palladium 275
Progress 275
Revolutions 277
Self-Dependence 278
Morality 279
A Summer Night 280
The Buried Life 283
Lines written in Kensington Gardens 286
A Wish 288
The Future 290
New Rome 293
The Lord's Messengers 294
Merope 295
The Scholar-Gypsy 381
Thyrsis 389
Memorial Verses 397
Stanzas in Memory of Edward Quillinan 400
Stanzas from Carnac 401
A Southern Night 402
Haworth Churchyard 407
Epilogue 411
Rugby Chapel 411
Heine's Grave 418
Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse 425
Stanzas in Memory of the Author of Obermann 432
Obermann Once More 438
Westminster Abbey 451
Geist's Grave 457
Poor Matthias 460
Kaiser Dead 467
S. S. "Lusitania" 470
Alaric at Rome 471
Cromwell 481
The Hayswater Boat 488
Sonnet to the Hungarian Nation 490
Destiny 490
Courage 491
Thekla's Answer 492
Notes 493


The present edition of the poetical works of Matthew Arnold is enriched by the addition of all of his earlier and later poems, hitherto uncollected. This includes a reprint of his two prize poems, "Alaric at Rome" and "Cromwell"; the first having been recently discovered in almost unique copies, has attracted much attention and interest not only as the earliest known work of their talented author, but also for its inherent beauty and power.

This edition is therefore most complete in every respect. The brief Biography depends chiefly for its accuracy on the interesting series of letters edited by Mr. George W. C. Russell, and on the friendly criticism of Prof. Charles Eliot Norton, who was one of Mr. Matthew Arnold's most intimate friends.


Matthew Arnold was born at Laleham, in the valley of the Thames, December 24, 1822. He was the oldest son of "the great and good" Thomas Arnold, so well known as the Head Master of Rugby School. His grandfather Arnold was Collector of Customs at Cowes on the Isle of Wight. His mother was Mary, daughter of the Reverend John Penrose, Vicar of Fledborough Nolls.

When he was eight years old, he became a pupil of his uncle, the Reverend John Buckland, with whom he continued at Laleham until August, 1836, when he entered "Commoners" at Winchester under Dr. Moberly, afterwards Bishop of Salisbury. Matthew Arnold took such high rank in the school that he escaped the "austere system" of fagging then in vogue, and his father, who had desired him to have the full benefit of it, removed him to Rugby at the end of a year. There he had a training for which he rejoiced all his life: it was, to use his own words, "so unworldly, so sound, so pure."

In 1840 he won a school-prize with a poem, "Alaric at Rome," which was published anonymously and has since become very scarce, only four copies being extant. It has been recently republished and commended by able critics for its depth of thought and accuracy of form. Having been elected to an open classical scholarship at Balliol, he went to Oxford the following year. Before he left Rugby he distinguished himself by winning a School-Exhibition. In 1842 he won the Hertford Scholarship; in 1843 his poem on Cromwell brought him the Newdigate Prize. It was not delivered aloud, the students being too uproarious, but it was published in an edition of seven hundred and fifty copies, all of which were sold within a few days. He received ten pounds for the copyright. He was elected Fellow of Oriel in 1845, just thirty years after the election of his father. Arthur Hugh Clough, Dean Church, and other noted men were among his colleagues at the famous college. After teaching the classics for a short time in the Fifth Form at Rugby, he was appointed Private Secretary to the Earl of Lansdowne, Lord President of the Council.

As early as 1848 he began to sound his trumpet against the fictitiousness of English manners and civility and to find in Greek serenity a lesson for all time. He clearly saw what civilization in England lacked, and he felt that he could add to the sum of happiness by stimulating his fellow-men to find in true culture a nobler ideal for their lives. Like other prophets and seers, he was misunderstood and cordially disliked by the very classes whom he wished to help. In 1849, while the world was in a state of ferment and revolution, he read Homer from beginning to end. He also published "The Strayed Reveller and Other Poems," in an edition of five hundred copies, the title-page having only the initial A. as indication of the authorship. It was withdrawn from circulation before many copies were sold; but all the poems it contained, with one exception, were afterwards reprinted.

In 1851 he found himself withdrawing more and more from society, despising modern literature, which he declared was "only what has been before and what will be again and not bracing or edifying in the least." For months he did not look at a newspaper.

But this same year he was appointed to an Inspectorship of Schools and married Frances Lucy, daughter of Mr. Justice Wightman. For him he often acted in the capacity of Marshal on the Circuits. This gave him an opportunity of seeing some of the most delightful parts of England, together with the most satisfying companionship.

The duties of his school-inspecting kept him constantly on the move. He found the work very oppressive, but his sense of duty was such that he never allowed the feeling to get too strong. His wife frequently accompanied him, and that was "the only thing that made this life anything but positive purgatory."

Such work was necessary, but, in view of Matthew Arnold's genius and his peculiarly lofty qualifications for statesmanship and the higher realms of literature, it makes one's heart bleed to read of his long years of comparatively unremunerative drudgery, of his having to apply that unrivalled mind to the pettiness of examining an average of sixty or more schoolboy compositions a day, of his "being driven furious by seven hundred closely written grammar-papers to be looked over" when he was desirous of doing better things. Oftentimes he mentions, though without complaint, the necessity of examining scores of pupil-teachers in small and inconvenient rooms and going without proper food. Pheidias may make good sandals, but to keep him at it would be a loss to sculpture.

But all the pleasanter were his vacations, which gave him time for employments that he liked, for writing his poems, perhaps taking a few weeks' run upon the Continent, where always, if possible, he sought regions abounding in clear waters. He published in 1852 (semi-anonymously, as before) "Empedocles on Etna," but withdrew it from circulation ere fifty copies were sold; the following year the first series of his "Poems" appeared, with a preface of considerable length. The volume contained nine new titles, among them "Sohrab and Rustum" and "The Scholar Gypsy." In 1854 it went into a second edition with some changes. In 1855 the "second series" of his "Poems" appeared.

In 1856 he wrote his mother of his delight at being elected to the Athenæum Club, and of looking forward with rapture to the use of that Library when he should be in London. He found it a place at which he "enjoyed something like beatitude." The following year he was made Professor of Poetry at Oxford. His first lecture was on the Modern Element in Literature. He afterwards wrote that he almost always had a very fair attendance. "To be sure, it is chiefly composed of ladies," he adds, but he reconciled himself by thinking, as he composed his lectures, 'of the public who would read him, not of the dry bones who would hear him.'

He wrote this year his tragedy of "Merope," as he said, 'to inaugurate his professorship with dignity rather than to move deeply the present race of humans.' He tried to give it "a character of Fixity, that true sign of the law." It was published and had a fair success, though he complained that the British public found it hard to understand his attempted reproduction of the power, grandeur, and dignity of the Greek imagination. He wrote a friend that the poem was reviewed "very expostulatingly."

He would have liked to devote his whole life to poetry, as Wordsworth, Byron, and Shelley were able to do. But he found it no light matter to produce his best—all that was in him—with such a "hampered existence." He felt and resisted the temptation to transfer his poetic operations "to a region where form was everything." It was effort, it was a tearing of himself to pieces to do his best "to attain or approach perfection in the region of thought and to unite this with perfection of form." He found the exhaustion of the best poetical production, coupled with the claims of his serious work, a tremendous strain. Goethe, he reminded himself, was likewise hampered by "the endless matters" that claimed his attention. Indeed, all poets have found fault with their environment: one with his professorship, another with his lectures, another with his very idleness. The birds may very likely say that if it were not for the atmosphere they could fly to the stars!

But Matthew Arnold was not a complaining man. As the editor of his letters says: "Self-denial was the law of his life, yet the word never crossed his lips." What a lovely record that, while always working beyond the limits of his strength, "he never by a word or a sign betrayed a consciousness of the dull indifference to his gifts and services which stirred the fruitless indignation of his friends."

His capacity for work was extraordinary. Occasionally in his letters he hints at the demands upon him. We catch glimpses of him examining half a dozen schools in a day, looking over scores of examination papers, putting his hand to the stores of his well-ordered mind to write reviews or essays for magazines, preparing his Oxford lectures; yet never, amid all the rush of his busy existence, did he neglect the claims of his dearly beloved family, his mother, or his sister, or (if he happened to be away from home) his wife: writing them the fullest, sweetest, happiest letters, giving himself in them as a child gives the typical cup of cold water to a thirsty traveller.

In 1858 he took a house in London, in Chester Square, and, for the first time in the seven years after his marriage, settled down to live.

The following year he was sent abroad as Foreign Assistant Commissioner to report on the Systems of Continental Education. This enabled him not only to see the inner life of France and other countries, but also to travel in a leisurely and satisfactory way. He was fond of beautiful Nature, and his prose descriptions of scenery have a genuinely poetic touch.

On his return he embodied some of his foreign experiences in a pamphlet entitled "England and the Italian Question." He felt that he had inherited from his father his pamphleteering talent. "Even the positive style of statement," he said, "I inherit."

At this time he joined the Queen's Westminster Rifle Volunteers and greatly enjoyed the drilling which he felt "braces one's muscles and does one a world of good."

He was always fond of sport with gun and rod: he keenly enjoyed shooting grouse on a Scotch moor or pulling in a two-pound trout from a clear sparkling mountain stream. His first salmon was a matter of chronicle.

Before he had reached the age of forty he had recognized his special function, already early indicated: it was to tame "the wild beast of Philistinism," using literature as his method. "I have always the risk before me," he said, "of being torn to pieces by him and, even if I succeed to the utmost, of dying in a ditch or a workhouse at the end of it all." He hated with a royal hatred what he called "the vulgarity, the meddlesomeness, and the grossness of the British multitude." They were "Philistines"; but the Aristocracy, so blinded in their confirmed conservatism, were "Barbarians." And the epithets became by-words.

Yet, in spite of his severe criticism on men, manners, and morals, he early determined, and he never failed, "to be scrupulously polite in print," and though he was equally determined to say imperturbably what he thought and to make a great many people uncomfortable, yet he saw that the great thing was "to speak without a particle of vice, malice, or rancor." Time, study, and nature taught him "the precious truth" that everything turns on the way one exercises the power of persuasion and charm, and that without it, all fury, energy, reasoning power, and acquirement were thrown away and rendered their owner more miserable. "Even in one's ridicule," he said, "one must preserve a sweetness and good humor."

Perfectly sweet-tempered himself, he dissociated personality from criticism, and while respecting authors he was often relentless in his judgment of their works. This severity he applied to Thackeray and Ruskin, to Tennyson and Coventry Patmore, to Swinburne and Mrs. Browning. His favorites, after the Greek poets, were Wordsworth and Goethe.

He expressed frankly his own feelings under criticism: at first he felt annoyed; then he cheered himself by remembering how, within a few days, the effect of it upon him would have wholly passed, and then he would begin to think of the openings which he might find to answer back, and so he quickly recovered his gayety and good spirits and was enabled to look on the article as "simply an object of interest" to him.

Under all his serious views of life and the deep sense of responsibility which he felt over his task of inoculating the British public with intelligence, there was hidden largely from common sight but well known to his family and friends a fund of brightness, of radiant wit, of frank, boyish, totally inoffensive self-satisfaction. He liked sympathetic appreciation, especially of his poetry. One feels nearer to his humanity when one reads in a letter to his mother how he walked up Regent Street behind a man with a board on his back announcing his article on Marcus Aurelius. Such hearty acknowledgment of what many men would hypocritically pretend to ignore makes us love him. That it was not conceit is shown by many fearless passages in his home letters: "to be less personal in one's desires and workings is the great matter...for progress in the direction of the 'seeketh not her own' there is always room."

Severely as he attacked the faults of England, he loved her fondly, and it was no idle echo of Gilbert's Admiral when he declared that he would be "sorry to be a Frenchman, German, or American or anything but an Englishman." His respect for America rose higher after the tragic ending of the War of the Rebellion. He was at first inclined to sympathize with the South, not because he sympathized with slavery, but because, judging of the North from the utterances of compromise-seeking politicians, he drew the erroneous conclusion that the North had little character. He was by nature an aristocrat in the best sense of the word and believed in centralization and concentration of government. It was characteristic of him that he found a dramatic interest in the assassination of Lincoln, by reason of the fact that the assassin shouted in Latin as he leapt on the stage.

In 1861 he published three of his Oxford lectures, under the title, "On Translating Homer," in which he severely criticised various versions,—Chapman's, Pope's, Maginn's, Newman's, Wright's,—and showed how they failed—in rapidity, in plainness, directness, and simplicity of style and of ideas, or in nobleness of diction. He himself gave a few examples of what, in his opinion, should be the method of the translator: he chose the hexameter as best reproducing the qualities of Homeric verse, and he conclusively showed that if he had proceeded to translate the whole, it would have approached very near the highest possible ideal. But he left only a few fragments. His lectures gave rise to some controversy, and the following year he issued a fourth essay, entitled "Lost Words on Translating Homer," in which he good-humoredly replied to his critics.

In April, 1865, he was sent abroad for eight months to make further reports on the Continental Schools. He did not like the Italians and believed them incapable of self-government. He thought them "no more civilized by their refinement alone than the English by their energy alone."

Matthew Arnold was a good type of the modern prophet, but his prophecies were not always justified by events: as he thought the new realm of Italy was only a fair-weather kingdom, so he declared that the French would easily defeat the Germans. What he saw in Germany was for the most part unattractive millions inconceivably ugly and speaking a hideous language. His dislike for America and Americans, as standing for the opposite of all his ideals, almost reached contempt. He himself denied that he had contempt for unintellectual people. But his expressions made people think so. He once wrote to his wife: "I am much struck with the utter unfitness of women for teachers or lecturers." These prejudices, which have to be taken into consideration, for the world judged him by them, misjudged him by them, were the defects of his qualities.

They never influenced his warmth of heart, his loyal affection for friends of every race, whether Italians, Germans, or Americans! Few, except his intimates, knew how constantly he went about doing good: looking after the interests of employés and school teachers. Once it was his duty as inspector sharply to criticise a certain school: the school-master, nevertheless, remarked of him that he was "always gentle and patient with the children."

His tenderness to his own children, his thought for their comfort, his beautiful affection for his dear old mother, to whom he wrote long letters no matter how busy he was, find in his letters their unaffected affecting record. Once he expresses his delight at receiving a box of Manila cheroots, not for himself, for he did not smoke, but to send to his brother, "dear old Tom," who had too few creature comforts. He tells his mother his daily occupations:—

Writing letters before breakfast, working at his Club or at the rooms of the School Society six or seven hours, then at home till midnight, with perhaps an hour's recreation—botanizing in summer, skating in winter—every moment full. It was his ambition to use the years from forty till fifty with poetry, but he did not escape the fatal drudgery.

This year appeared his "Essays in Criticism," eight of the nine being articles reprinted from various reviews. These calm, serene, impartial studies in the highest regions of philosophic and literary thought immediately placed Matthew Arnold on a level with Goethe in Germany, with Saint-Beuve, Taine, and Scherer in France. There had been English critics before, but in his own field Matthew Arnold stood alone and unapproached.

In 1866 he applied for a vacant charity commissionership which would have brought him in £300 more salary, but it was given to a lawyer, as he supposed it would be.

In 1867 he applied for the librarianship of the House of Commons, not really caring much for it, as the residence no longer went with it, but for his wife's sake. He disliked to ask for it, but was almost reconciled to the disagreeableness by the great kindness shown him. He failed to get it. This same year his "New Poems" appeared: they were all "new" except seven, which, at the earnest solicitation of Robert Browning, he reprinted from "Empedocles on Etna." One thousand copies were quickly sold. He brought out, also, his remarks on the Study of Celtic Literature: they were the substance of four lectures delivered at Oxford; for the first time English readers were made to see what a deep and lofty influence the hitherto despised Celt had exercised in helping to develop the most poetic elements of their literature.

Early in 1868 his "dear, dear little man," his youngest son, Basil, died; he himself fell at a railway station and was seriously injured. He moved to Harrow, where he took a comfortable house with ample grounds. Here, in November, his oldest son, Thomas, died at the age of sixteen. Deeply as he felt the loss of these dear ones, and of his brother William, and of his wife's father in the preceding years, his trust that all was well was unbroken. Bereavements and disappointments serve only to strengthen the really noble. In spite of growing older he felt no older, and he attributed his youthfulness of feelings to his "going on reading and thinking." At this time he had been seeing a good deal of high society at Aston Clinton, where the Rothschilds lived. He was very fond of Sir Anthony and Lady Rothschild, and he confessed that he "liked these occasional appearances in the world,—No," he adds, "I do not like them, but they do one good and one learns something from them; but, as a general rule, I agree with all the men of soul from Pythagoras to Byron in thinking that this type of society is the most drying, wasting, depressing, and fatal thing possible."

In 1869 he published his Essay in Political and Social Criticism entitled "Culture and Anarchy," which had previously appeared in successive numbers of the Cornhill Magazine, and which attracted great attention, especially through his application of the phrase "Sweetness and Light." He was always most pleased when commendation of his works took this form: "the ideas of it are exactly what papa would have approved." This same year he was asked by the Italian Government to take charge of the young Duke of Genoa, Prince Thomas of Savoy, who was to study at Harrow, and the project greatly pleased him because of the Continental connection which it gave him. He found the Prince "a dear boy" and grew very fond of him. He stayed with the Arnolds until April, 1871, and then the King gave Matthew Arnold the Order of Commander of the Crown of Italy as a token of his good will.

His collected Poems came out in two pretty volumes. He says of them that they represent, on the whole, the main movement of mind of the preceding quarter-century. He thought that it might be fairly urged against them that he had less poetical sentiment than Tennyson and less intellectual vigor and abundance than Browning. But he thought that, as he had "more of a fusion of the two than either of them and had more regularly applied that fusion to the main line of modern development," he was likely to have his turn as they had theirs. He had practically ceased his career as a productive poet as early as 1869; between that date and his death scarcely more than half a dozen titles are added to the succeeding editions of his works. More and more he contented himself with his special function as censor of public morals, as lay preacher to an obdurate generation. He felt that this was his life work, and so sacrificed his predilections to his lofty sense of duty.

He was at this time considering the prospect of one of the three commissionerships under "the Endowed Schools Act," but Gladstone blocked his way, and he was not sorry, because it would have substituted administrative for literary work: literature being, as he felt, his true business. He was greatly pleased the following year by being made Doctor of Civil Law at Oxford. He had doubted if he should ever have that distinction, not having won high honors while there. "The position of a man of letters," he said, "is uncertain, and more uncertain in the eyes of his own University than anywhere else." When he went up to receive it, Lord Salisbury, the Chancellor, told him that some one suggested to him to address him as vir dulcissime et lucidissime, so much had his favorite expression "Sweetness and Light" impressed people.

He was shortly afterwards invited with his wife to go, in company with Tennyson, in the Royal Society's expedition to see the eclipse from Etna. But he was unable to accept the tempting offer.

He lets a little light in on his literary profits when he tells his mother of an amusing interview he had in December, 1870, with the Tax Commissioner who had assessed his profits at £1000 a year, on the ground that he was a most distinguished literary man, his works mentioned everywhere. Matthew Arnold said: "You see before you, gentlemen, what you have often heard of, an unpopular author." Whereupon the assessment was cut down to £200 a year.

In February, 1872, Matthew Arnold's second son, Trevenen William, a youth of great promise and universally beloved, died quite suddenly at the age of eighteen. It was a great blow to his parents, but Matthew Arnold's beautiful faith enabled him to write:

But him on whom, in the prime
Of life, with vigor undimmed,
With unspent mind, and a soul
Unworn, undebased, undecayed,
Mournfully grating, the gates
Of the city of death have forever closed,—
Him, I count him, well-starred.

In 1873 the Arnolds, after having enjoyed a trip to Italy, left Harrow and took a house at Pain's Hill, near Cobham in Surrey: this was his home for the rest of his life. In September his mother, Mrs. Thomas Arnold of Fox How, died at the age of eighty-two. Matthew Arnold said of her that she had "a clearness and fairness of mind, an interest in things and a power of appreciating what might not be in her own line, which were very remarkable and which remained with her to the very end of her life." Her character seems to show in the very letters which Matthew Arnold sent her. Her appreciation of her son's work was very dear to him: even his "Literature and Dogma," which went through four editions that year, was not too strong for her advanced thinking.

In 1877 he was invited to stand for the Chair of Poetry at Oxford a second time; but he declined, partly so as to give younger men a chance, partly because he dreaded "the religious row" which he knew would ensue. He also declined to accept the Lord Rectorship of St. Andrews.

In 1882 he announced his intention of retiring from his office as one of her majesty's Lay Inspectors of Schools; he felt that his life was drawing to an end, and as Gladstone, he knew, would never promote the author of "Literature and Dogma," he had "no wish to execute the Dance of Death in an elementary school."

The following year he was asked to give a series of lectures in the United States, and he also received, to his surprise, the offer of a pension of £250 "as a public recognition of service to the poetry and literature of England." But he was inclined to refuse it on the ground that, as the fund available for such purposes was small, it would not look well if a man drawing from the public purse nearly £1000 a year took such a material increase; but his friends were so urgent that at last he yielded, and only the Echo sneeringly called him a "a very Bonaparte" for rapacity.

Before he came to America he had to a considerable extent formed his judgment of this country. This is a rather dangerous but quite natural way of doing. It is easy afterwards to make what one sees confirm the prejudice. As early as June, 1883, he wrote to his friend, the Reverend F. B. Zincke:—

"You are very favorable to the Americans, but it is undoubtedly true that the owning and cultivating one's own land as they do is the wholesomest condition for mankind. And you bring out what is most important, that the real America is made up of families and owners and cultivators of this kind. I hope this is true; one hears so much of the cities which do not seem tempting, and of the tendency of every American, farmer or not, to turn into a trader, and a trader of the 'cutest and hardest kind.

"I do not think the bulk of the American nation at present gives one the impression of being made up of fine enough clay to serve the highest purposes of civilization in the way you expect; they are what I call Philistines, I suspect, too many of them. But the condition of life of the majority there is the wholesome and good one; there is immense hope for the future in that fact."

In October, after a stormy but "splendid" passage, he landed in New York, "the blatant publicity" of which confirmed his worst fears. But he soon found how well known he was, and it modified his ideas of American philistinism to have hotel barbers and porters reverencing him as a poet and asking for his autograph. Dr. Holmes, whom he called a dear little old man, introduced him to his Boston audience. He was most struck with the buoyancy, enjoyment and freedom from constraint, the universal good nature of the American people. He found much pseudo-culture: few men of note had ever heard of Obermann, and as a knowledge of Obermann was in his eyes a test of civilization, he thought our philistinism extremely depressing, all the more when it was often glossed over with a varnish of pretence. Some individuals even confused him with Sir Edwin Arnold, and supposed that he was the author of "Tom Brown": these confusions naturally disgusted him.

But on the whole he grew more and more interested in the American people, and his lectures were a success from the start. His fee was $150, and, besides what he made, he felt that he was learning much. His delight in some of the chefs-d'œuvre of the American table was quite amusing. He was ready to hymn a panegyric to the Yankee Cock-tail! He was delighted with the Richmond schools for negroes and "could have passed hours there." He preferred Philadelphia to Boston. He found nothing picturesque in America except a sledge on a lake with the horses half turned round.

He was greatly amused at the comments of the newspapers. A Chicago paper declared that he had "harsh features, supercilious manners, parted his hair down the middle, wore a single eye-glass and ill-fitting clothes." A Detroit newspaper compared him, as he stooped now and then to look at his manuscript, to "an elderly bird pecking at grapes on a trellis."

After his return from the United States he was sent for the third time to the Continent to report on schools, and was cordially received by the most exclusive circles. Most of the time he was in Prussia. His eldest daughter married a gentleman in New York, and he was in this country again in the summer of 1886 lecturing and taking great delight in "nursing" his little granddaughter. He thought the wooden American country-house with its great piazza the prettiest villa in the world.

On his return to England he retired definitely from his inspectorship, the Westminster teachers presenting him with a handsome jug and salver.

Before and during his summer in America he had premonitions of heart trouble,—the same malady which had struck down his father and grandfather in active life. He regarded death as a quite natural event and did not look forward to it with dread. In April, 1888, he went to Liverpool, expecting, on the day after his arrival, to meet his elder daughter coming from America. But the meeting never took place. An hour before the steamship was due he started out in the best of spirits to take the tram-car. He may have hurried a little; he had already neglected the physician's injunctions and exerted himself in leaping a low fence near his sister's house. He suddenly fell forward, and never spoke again. He died on the fifteenth at the age of sixty-five years and three months.

"The lives and deaths of the 'pure in heart,'" he himself said, "have perhaps the privilege of touching us more deeply than those of others, partly, no doubt, because with them the disproportion of suffering to desert seems so unusually great."

Matthew Arnold was one of the great intellectual and moral forces of the century. As an essayist he was one of the first to raise criticism to its true significance, placing it on foundations of reason and justice, dissociating from it the elements of personality, making it free, broad, and generous, however severe it might be. And it was never destructive, but always constructive, criticism; he never failed in all that he wrote to reiterate his persuasive assertion of the superiority of the intellectual life. If he failed at all, it was in carrying the virtue of fastidiousness to an extreme.

As a moralist, or perhaps rather as a lay-preacher of theology, he took a position even more radical than that which in his father had so offended the conservative members of the Anglican Church. He never wearied of attacking the narrowness of the English dissenters and showing up the bareness and unlovliness of their cherished creeds. The great middle class of England which he termed materialized, and the lower class which he said was brutalized, cordially detested him for the "artful iteration" by which he called attention to their foibles. His Parthian arrows, in the form of memorable phrases, stuck in their armor and rankled. As they were tipped, not with poison, but with the wholesome bitterness of reason, they ultimately inoculated many unwilling readers with that restlessness and dissatisfaction which bring about a healthier moral state. He was called a Jeremiah, preaching a doctrine of pessimism; but no epithet was unfairer. What he strenuously strove to communicate to the great people which he loved was more abundant life, a more reasonable faith, a sweeter and more luminous view of God's action in the world. As a theological writer Matthew Arnold's influence has so passed into our later thought that he already seems almost trite, but that was inevitable. After prophecy has been fulfilled, the prophet is forgotten. With hammer blows he reiterated his teaching until he compelled the heedless to hear. He had a noble message nobly delivered: he had command of wit, of learning, of persuasion.

As a poet his voice fell silent far too soon. He was not a lyrical poet: composers would not select his verses as perfect in rhythm for setting to music; but they had serene depths of sincerity and a lucidity of thought which marked them out from the wordy beauty of others who perhaps for the time enjoyed greater popularity. He will take his place as one of the greatest poets of this century; beside Wordsworth, with whom he had much in common, to whom he was in some respects—certainly as regard balance and symmetry—immeasurably superior. Lord Beaconsfield once remarked that he was the only living Englishman who had become a classic in his lifetime. "Sohrab," "Balder Dead," "Tristram and Iseult," "The Strayed Reveller," "The Forsaken Merman," "Philomela," "A Summer Night," "Dover Beach," or "Rugby Chapel" are not likely to be forgotten so long as the English tongue is read. As a man, judged by the testimony of his friends and the sincerity of his letters, he was lovable, simple, honest, straightforward, and kind.


Boston, January, 1897.




1840. Alaric at Rome. | A prize poem, | recited in Rugby School, | June xii, MDCCCXL. | [Arms of the School.] | Rugby: Combe & Crossley. | MDCCCXL. 8vo. 11 pp.
1843. Cromwell. | A prize poem, | recited in the Theatre, Oxford, | June 28, 1843. | By | Matthew Arnold, | Balliol College. | [Arms of Oxford.] | Oxford: | Printed and published by J. Vincent. | MDCCCXLIII. 12mo. 15 pp.
1846. Oxford Prize Poems. The edition of Oxford Prize Poems, dated 1846, includes Cromwell (pp. 393-404). It is not stated anywhere in the volume that the poem is by Matthew Arnold.
Oxford Prize Poems. | Being | a Collection | of such | English Poems | as have | at various times obtained Prizes | in the | University of Oxford. | [Arms of Oxford.] | Printed for J. H. Parker, J. Vincent, | and H. Slatter. | MDCCCXLVI. Crown 8vo. iv + 427 pp.
1849. The | Strayed Reveller, | and | Other Poems. | By A. | London: | B. Fellowes, Ludgate Street. | 1849. Small 8vo. viii + 128 pp.
1852. Empedocles on Etna, | and | Other Poems. | By A. | London: | B. Fellowes, Ludgate Street. | 1852. Small 8vo. viii + 236 pp.
1853. Poems. | By | Matthew Arnold. | A New Edition. | London: | Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans. | MDCCCLIII. Foolscap 8vo. xxxvi + 248 pp. [Afterwards known as First Series.]
1854. Poems. | Second Edition. | London: | Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans. | MDCCCLIV. [Preface: v-viii pp. Preface to Ed. I., ix-xxxv.] Five poems omitted: Thekla's Answer, Richmond Hill, Power of Youth, A Modern Sappho, and Sonnet written in Emerson's Essays; one poem, A Farewell, added; also greater part of Note to Sohrab and Rustum, pp. 51-59.
1855. Poems. | By | Matthew Arnold. | Second Series. | London: | Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans. | MDCCCLV. Foolscap 8vo. viii + 210 pp.
1857. Poems. | By | Matthew Arnold. | Third Edition. | London: | Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, & Roberts. | 1857. [One new poem added, To Marguerite; the poem thus named in two previous editions under Switzerland being charged to Isolation.]
1858. Merope. | A Tragedy. | By | Matthew Arnold. | London: | Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, & Roberts. | MDCCCLVIII. Foolscap 8vo. lii + 138 pp. [Preface dated London: December, 1857.]
1863. Cromwell. | Second Edition. | Oxford: | T. & G. Shrimpton, Broad Street. | MDCCCLXIII. Crown 8vo. 15 pp.
1867. Saint Brandan. | By | Matthew Arnold. | London: | E. W. & A. Skipwith. | 1867. Foolscap 8vo. 11 pp. [Appeared first in Fraser's Magazine, July, 1860.]
New Poems | by | Matthew Arnold. | London: | Macmillan and Co. | MDCCCLXVII. Foolscap 8vo. viii + 244 pp.
1868. New Poems | by | Matthew Arnold. | Second Edition. | London: | Macmillan and Co. | MDCCCLXVIII. Foolscap 8vo. viii + 246 pp. [The last poem, Obermann Once More, has additional stanzas and notes.]
1869. Poems | by | Matthew Arnold. | The First Volume | Narrative and Elegiac Poems. | London: | Macmillan and Co. | MDCCCLXIX. [All rights reserved.] 1869.
1869. Poems | by | Matthew Arnold. | The Second Volume | Dramatic and Lyric Poems. | (Etc., as above.) Crown 8vo. Vol. I., viii + 276 pp.; Vol. II., viii + 267 pp. ["First Collected Edition."]
1877. Poems | by | Matthew Arnold. | The First Volume | Early Poems, Narrative Poems, | and Sonnets. | New and Complete Edition. | London: | Macmillan and Co. | MDCCCLXXVII.
Poems | by | Matthew Arnold. | The Second Volume | Lyric, Dramatic, and Elegiac Poems. | (Etc., as above.) Crown 8vo. Vol. I., viii + 272 pp.; Vol. II., viii + 312 pp.
1878. Selected Poems | of | Matthew Arnold. | [Illustration.] | London: | Macmillan and Co. | 1878. Small 8vo. viii + 235 pp. [Golden Treasury Series.] Also large paper, crown 8vo, 250 copies. The selection made by the author.
1881. Geist's Grave | by [ Matthew Arnold. | London: | Printed only for a few Friends. | 1881. Small 8vo. 11 pp. [Appeared first in the Fortnightly Review, January, 1881.]
Poems. New Edition.
This edition of the Poems agrees in the main, both in contents and in appearance, with its immediate predecessor, dated 1877. The following alterations, however, have to be noted: The date on the title page reads 'MDCCCLXXXI'; the pagination of Vol. I. is viii, 278; of Vol. II., viii, 320; A Tomb among the Mountains is omitted; The Church of Brou and A Dream are reprinted from earlier volumes; three new poems added: New Rome, The Lord's Messengers, Geist's Grave.
1883. The | Matthew Arnold Birthday Book. | Arranged by his Daughter | Eleanor Arnold. | With a Portrait. | London: | Smith, Elder, & Co., 15 Waterloo Place, | 1883. Small 4to. [Cabinet photograph of Matthew Arnold seated with his dog in his arms, reproduced by Woodbury type process and subscribed in facsimile Matthew Arnold, 1883.]
1885. Poems. Library Edition. Three volumes.
Vol. I.
Poems | by | Matthew Arnold. | Early Poems, Narrative Poems, | and Sonnets. | London: | Macmillan and Co. | 1885.
Vol. II.
Poems | by | Matthew Arnold. | Lyric and Elegiac Poems. | London: | Macmillan and Co. | 1885.
Vol. III.
Poems | by | Matthew Arnold. | Dramatic and Later Poems. | London: | Macmillan and Co. | 1885.
Crown 8vo. Vol. I., x + 272 pp.; Vol. II., x + 256 pp.; Vol. III., viii + 209 pp.
1888. Poems | by | Matthew Arnold. | Early Poems, Narrative Poems, | and Sonnets. | [Vol. II., "Lyric and Elegiac |Poems"; Vol. III., "Dramatic and Later Poems."] | London | Macmillan and Co. | and New York. | 1888.
1890. Poetical Works | of | Matthew Arnold. | London | Macmillan and Co. | and New York. | 1890. [All rights |reserved.] Crown 8vo. xiv + 510 pp. Portrait of author from photograph by Sarony, New York.
1891. Cromwell. | Third Edition. | Oxford: | A. Thomas Shrimpton & Son, Broad Street. | 1891.
Contributions to Periodical Publications, etc.
Memorial Verses. Fraser's Magazine, June, 1850, Vol. XLI., No. 246, p. 630. Signed "A." Dated April 27, 1850. |Reprinted in Empedocles on Etna: 1852.
Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse. Fraser's Magazine, April, 1855, Vol. LI., No. 304, pp. 437-440. Reprinted |in New Poems: 1867.
Haworth Churchyard. Fraser's Magazine, May, 1855, Vol. LI., No. 305, pp. 527-530. Signed "A." Dated April, |1855. Reprinted in Poems: 1877.
Saint Brandan. Fraser's Magazine, July, 1860. Vol. LXII., No. 367, pp. 133, 134. Reprinted in New Poems: |1867.
Men of Genius. The Cornhill Magazine, July, 1860, Vol. II., No. 7, p. 33. Reprinted in Poems: 1855, under the title of "The Lord's Messengers."
A Southern Night. The Victoria Regia (a volume of original contributions in poetry and prose, edited by Adelaide A. Procter), 1861, pp. 177-183. Reprinted in New Poems: 1867.
Thyrsis. Macmillan's Magazine, April, 1866, Vol. XIII., No. 78, pp. 449-454. Reprinted in New Poems: 1867.
New Rome. The Cornhill Magazine, June, 1873, Vol. XXVII., No. 162, p. 687. Reprinted in Poems: 1885.
The New Sirens. A Palinode. (With a Prefatory Note.) Macmillan's Magazine, December, 1876, Vol. XXXV., No. 206, pp. 132-138. Previously published in The Strayed Reveller: 1849. Reprinted in Poems: 1877.
S. S. "Lusitania." (A Sonnet.) The Nineteenth Century, January, 1879, Vol. V., No. 23, p. 1. Reprinted for the first time in the present edition.
Geist's Grave. The Fortnightly Review, January, 1881, Vol. XXIX., N. S., No. 159, pp. 1-3. Reprinted in Poems: 1881.
Westminster Abbey. The Nineteenth Century, January, 1882, Vol. XI., No. 59, pp. 1-8. Reprinted in Poems: 1885.
Poor Matthias. Macmillan's Magazine, December, 1882, Vol. XLVII., No. 278, pp. 81-85. Reprinted in Poems: 1885.
Kaiser Dead. The Fortnightly Review, July, 1887, Vol. XLII., N. S., No. 247, pp. 1-3. Reprinted in Poetical Works: 1890.
Horatian Echo. The Century Guild Hobby Horse, July, 1887, No. 7, pp. 81, 82. Reprinted in Poetical Works: 1890.

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.