Tennyson pp 185-189 | Cite as

Tennyson on Religion

  • William Boyd-Carpenter
Part of the Interviews and Recollections book series (IR)


It fell out naturally when I met him that conversation turned on religion or theological subjects. His mind, courageous, inquiring, honest, sought truth beyond the forms of truth. On the occasion of my first visit to Aldworth, in the smoking-room we talked of the problem of pain, of determinism, of apparent contradictions of faith. That night, indeed, we seemed to talk. ‘Of faith, free will, foreknowledge absolute’. But the impression left upon my mind was that we were engaged in no more scholastic discussion; it was no mere intellectually satisfactory creed which was sought: it was something deeper and more abiding than anything which may be modified in form from age to age; the soul needs an anchorage, and to find it there must be no ignoring of facts and no juggling with them once they are found. In illustration of this I may relate how once, when walking with him among the heather-clad heights round Aldworth, he spoke of the apparent dualism in Nature: the forces of darkness and light seemed to meet in conflict. ‘If I were not a Christian,’ he said, ‘I should be perhaps a Parsee’.1 He felt, however, that if once we accepted the view that this life was a time of education, then the dark things might be found to have a meaning and a value. In the retrospect hereafter the pain and suffering would seem trivial … He once quoted to me Hinton’s2 view that we were not in a position to judge the full meaning of life; that we were in fact looking at the wrong side of things. We saw the work from the underside, and we could not judge of the pattern which was perhaps clear enough on the upper side.


Wrong Side Religion Nature Macmillan Publisher Italian Philosopher National Biography 
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  1. 2.
    James Hinton (1822–75), surgeon and member of the Metaphysical Society, published several books on philosophy and religion.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1983

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  • William Boyd-Carpenter

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