Discovery: ‘Timbuctoo’

  • Aidan Day


Writing to Tennyson in 1833, Francis Garden, one of Tennyson’s friends from undergraduate days at Cambridge, spoke of ‘the principles of doubt which I have heard you apply to Christianity’ (Lang and Shannon 1982–90:I.103). Tennyson had dramatised his religious doubt in an 1830 poem, ‘Supposed Confessions of a Second-Rate Sensitive Mind’, where the speaker tells of his trauma at having lost the ‘common faith’ of ‘Christians with happy countenances’ (33, 20):

I am void,

Dark, formless, utterly destroyed.

Why not believe then? Why not yet

Anchor thy frailty there, where man

Hath moored and rested? Ask the sea

At midnight, when the crisp slope waves

After the tempest, rib and fret

The broad-imbasèd beach, why he

Slumbers not like a mountain tarn?



Grand Narrative Religious Doubt Rational Spirit Fourth Book Romantic Idea 
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© Aidan Day 2005

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  • Aidan Day

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