We are all the creatures of our surroundings—the poets perhaps more than most. Those who read Wordsworth’s “Prelude,” which was not published till after his death, will realise how the sights, sounds, and features of the locality in which poets pass their boyhood, become part and parcel of them, colour their imagination right into the far-off years and become permanent possessions of their whole life. The sooner the poet begins to feel the wings of his fancy, the firmer hold does it seem that the associations of his surroundings will get of him, and we are not surprised to find that Lincolnshire, or that part of it in which Tennyson spent his early years, is found to be embedded in the late Laureate’s poems, and that memories of “Linkishire daäys” ring up through them to the very last. (p. 1)
Anyone familiar with the Somersby neighbourhood, or who knows the wolds between Keal Hill and Louth, the “fen” between Spilsby and Burgh or Alford and Boston, the “marsh” between Burgh and the sea at Skegness, the coast line between Mablethorpe and Gibraltar Point, will constantly, as he reads his Tennyson, find himself back in Lincolnshire. Nor is this felt alone in such a poem as the “Ode to Memory,” but in single lines throughout the “Idylls,” and in whole passages in “In Memoriam.” (p. 2)
We find this to be so not only in the work of the younger Tennyson, our late Laureate Lord of Song, but in the case of the poems written by the eldest Tennyson, Frederick, and in the sonnets with which Charles Tennyson Turner has enriched our literature. (p. 2)….
But it was not only that Lincolnshire, its sights and scenes, soaked into the minds of the Tennyson boys and girls, just at the time when these minds were most receptive and the dewy-dawn of memory freshest; the language of Lincolnshire also entered into their ears, and this, such pure dialect as the colony of Danes, who in olden time peopled the triangle between Boston, Horncastle, and Louth, had kept in purity quite till the middle of the present century. (p. 4)
More than fifty years had passed since Lord Tennyson had left his father’s homeland, but he never seemed to me to be so entirely his best self as when, brimming over with humour, he repeated, in the broad Lincolnshire dialect, some of the quaint conversations that he had in his bygone days with the typical northern farmer. (p. 4)
His poet’s ear was as “practised as a blind man’s touch,” and he remembered the least modifications and variety of tone, as he spoke or read the dialect of the old countryside. Anyone who knows the dialect to-day and listened to him could see where and what changes had taken place in it for the worse during the last two generations. (p. 5)
(Memories of the Tennysons, pp. 1-26)