When our poet this week, Alfred Tennyson, was a young man at Cambridge, in 1829, he met the best friend he ever had in his life, Arthur Henry Hallam. This was at a time and in a place where friendship might be founded on more than merriment – though the boys had plenty of that, to be sure. They became friends because they shared the same intellectual and artistic passions. Tennyson was twenty, and Hallam was eighteen, and the lads were aspiring poets, both of them, with keen interests in the great social, political, and religious questions of the day, which they debated in what was then a fairly new group, the Cambridge Apostles. That Christmas, Tennyson took Hallam home with him to meet the rest of his family, and Hallam straightaway fell madly in love with Tennyson’s younger sister, Emilia. During the next Christmas holidays, Arthur and Emilia were engaged to be married.
And the marriage would h…
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