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bear, as yet. I have received cards from Fryer ; how blest
he will be in that noble creature, his wife. I am writing


an article on Tennyson's new poem, in a Scotch magazine.
May I make use of your discovery concerning the sense of
the Lady of Shalott ? Favour me with a line by return, as
the Editor awaits my article. Are you likely to be in town
soon again ?

Coventry Patmore.

5, Brunswick Terrace, Camden Town.

Feb. 15, 1848.
My Dear Sutton,

You will be glad to hear that I am engaged on a
new Poem.^ It will be about as long as the " Ancient
Mariner." I have written two-thirds already. It will be
nearly a year before I shall have finished it, for I am anxious
to make it very complete.

Yours ever,

C. K. Patmore.

British Museum,

Feb. 21, 1848.
My Dear Sutton,

My new poem is to shew the right nature — or rather
the wrong nature, and through that the right — of love for a
woman. It will be my last love poem ; and, I hope, will
redeem some of the nonsense of my old volume. I am
bestowing unusual care upon it. You will like it, I am sure.
I am glad that you have been writing ; and after my own
errors, I dare not say that I am sorry that you are going to
publish poetry. What I have seen of yours gave me the
notion that, with excellent capacity, you wanted the grand
essential leisure for writing poetry. Nothing will do now
but the quintessence that takes a long time to make. What
do you think a fair day's work ? Four lines ? I do.

Yours faithfully,

C. K. Patmore.

Museum, May, 24 [1848].
My Dear Sutton,

I am glad that you are becoming reconciled to the
" inevitable " character of my present faith. I have just this

Most probably " Tamerton Church Tower."


moment come across a passage in Cousin which may
possibly be of service to you.

" Idealism . . . takes its point of departure from the
reason or intelligence — from the ideas or laws which govern
its activity. But instead of contenting itself with denying
the exclusive pretension of sensualism, and asserting the
origin of an important part of our knowledge in the reason,
and thus vindicating the truths destroyed by sensualism,
it finds all reality in the mind alone; denies matter; absorbs
all things, God and the universe, into individual conscious-
ness, and that into thought ; just as, by contrary error,
sensualism absorbs consciousness and all things into

Sensualism and Realism are two dogmatisms equally
true in one view, equally false in another ; and both result
in nearly equal extravagances.

I have read Blanco White, most carefully and most
sorrowfully. Take my advice and recommend that book
to no young man. I was nearly lost by it. I wonder I did
not commit suicide during the three months of despairing
atheism induced by it.

Yours in great haste,

Coventry Patmore.

19, Randolph Street, Camden Town.

June 5, 1848.

My Dear Sutton,

I have seen a good deal of Emerson. He dined here
with Tennyson before he went to Paris, and I expect to see
much more of him now. He speaks with much affection
and consideration of you, and says that you have only to
read more, to be enabled to do the world signal good.

I regret that, admiring Emerson's writings so much,
though very partially, I cannot sympathise with him per-
sonally. I am so bigoted that I seem to be sensible of a
hungry vacuum whenever I do not find views of Christianity
in some respects corresponding with my own.

How are Fryer and his wife getting on ? He ought to be
very happy. She seems to be a fine person. I have seen
no reason to change my mind touching the advantages of
marriage. I love my wife more and more every day, and
am daily sensible of spiritual benefits which I never could
have obtained without her.


Fryer will probably have told you that I have written
another long Poem. Tennyson advises me to keep it by
me for two years. I have also done much towards com-
pleting my collection of materials for what I cannot help
thinking will be a very important work on Architecture.
What are you doing ? Reading, prophesying, marrying, or
what ?

Have you read Maurice's " Religions of the World " ? If
not, do me the favour to read it at your earliest convenience,
and I will undertake, in return, to read any book of 250
pages 8vo. which you shall recommend me — that being the
length of Maurice's book.

Yours faithfully,

Coventry K. Patmore.

January 2nd, 1878.^

Dear Mrs. Sutton,

It was a very pleasant surprise to me to get a note
from you. During the many years which have passed since
we met I have often thought of you and your husband and
the pleasant youthful enthusiasms which we shared. I am
very glad to hear that my writings have given pleasure to
people whom it is a real honour to please, and that " Eros "
has found you and your husband among its narrow audi-
ence. If ever you are in the South, I hope we shall see
you. We are all well and fairly flourishing, and, in matter
of work, I seem to have a new youth coming upon me. After
nearly twenty * years of silence I am becoming quite
garrulous again, and hope to be able to send you another
volume of Odes in the course of the year. Remember me
very kindly to your husband and believe me.
Dear Mrs. Sutton,

Very truly yours and his,
C. Patmore.

^ The reader will notice that there is an interval of nearly
thirty years between this and the preceeding letter.

^ There was actually no such interval in Patmore's production,
as may be gathered from the following dates : " Victories of
Love," 1863; first nine "Odes," 1868. Further "Odes" and
"Amelia," 1878.



The Mansion, Hastings,

January 3rd, 1879.

My Dear Mrs. Sutton,

I was very glad to hear from you again. I always
remember my acquaintance with you and your husband as
one of the bright things of my life. I congratulate you
heartily on your son's splendid success at Oxford. I have
six grown up young people — all doing fairly well, except
my youngest, who six months ago was head boy in a great
school of 300, and promised brilliantly, but has suddenly,
I fear hopelessly, lost the sight of one eye, and is likely to
lose that of the other. One of my daughters, a little while
ago, developed an extraordinary faculty of drawing, and
her drawing last year was " on the line " at the Royal
Academy, and got a great deal of attention from the very
first judges in England. I did not answer your very kind
letter at once because I wanted her to draw you a butterfly.
I am glad my last book gave you and your husband
pleasure. I have just published a complete edition of all
my poems in four vols. ; but I have done so much to them
in revision that I imagine you will be better pleased to
retain your impression of them from earlier editions un-

With kindest regards to your husband, and with all good
wishes of the season to you and him.
Believe me,

Yours ever truly,

Coventry Patmore.


January 2nd, 1880.

Dear Mrs. Sutton,

It was very kind of you to remember me on the
New Year. I cordially reciprocate all your good wishes.
The old year has given me no cause to complain of it. It
has been quiet and peaceful, and, though not fruitful in
external work, has been full of what may prove to have
been good preparation for work, if God wills it so. Not to
run before I am sent is one of the few maxims of wisdom
which I have in the main kept. It is an easy one to keep
— unless one is mad with ambition, which, thank Heaven, I
am not.

I shall be very glad to have the photographs you pro-


mised. In the meantime I beg you to accept mine instead
of a New Year's Card.

With kind regards to your husband,

Yours very truly,



January i, 1881.'

My Dear Madam,

It was very kind of you to remember me at this
season. I can enter well into the feelings which seem
chiefly to occupy you, as well as to your sorrow as to its
consolations. I have had like things to suffer ; but, I
thank God, I never remember having felt a moment's dis-
content with what He ordained for me. The purpose, as I
regarded my soul's discipline, was always immediately
manifest, and I have never found the death of those I
loved to be other than the perfection of the embrace which
we had aimed at in life, but of which, somehow, we had
always been hindered. It is a great thing moreover that
the good should die young; and I cannot think how anyone
who really loves and believes should seriously grieve at
such a happiness. With my kind regards to your husband
and thanks to you for his photograph,

Believe me, dear Madam,
Yours very truly,

Coventry Patmore.


March i, 1883.

My Dear Mrs. Sutton,

You will be sorry to hear that my son Henry, the
dearest to me of all my children, is dead. He had long been
in a state of health which gave me some anxiety, and, the
Sunday before last, he caught a cold, which, coming on
previous lung disease, carried him off in six days. He was
twenty-two years old, and was as singular for his goodness
as his genius. He had carried off, year after year, all the
honours of his college, Ushaw; and, had he lived, would
probably have reached the very highest place among con-
temporary English poets.

Mr. and Mrs. Sutton's only son and child had lately died.


As such praise requires proof, I enclose a few verses
which, I think, anyone living might be glad to have

You and your husband have suffered a loss so like mine,
that I feel sure of your sympathy.

Yours and his ever truly,

C. Patmore.


Jany. 2, 1884.

Dear Mrs. Sutton,

Thank you and your husband for your kind recollec-
tions of us. I assure you that your and his liking for me
and my verses are among the most gratifying rewards of
my work. No wonder you are pleased with anything that
adequately speaks of the "joyful wisdom," seeing that you
are so full of it yourselves. We are all prospering, especi-
ally Piffle, whose first birthday is the day after to-morrow.
He is not only absolute king in the house, but has quite a
reputation for premature sanctity. Before he was six weeks
old he tried to swallow a Rosary, and always screams if
anyone tries to take away from him a little silver image of
Our Lady which he is particularly devoted to. With love
from myself and all to you and your husband,

Yours ever truly,

C. Patmore.

Please accept a little bit of Bertha's illumination.


March 30, 1896.

My Dear Sutton,

I am very glad to see your handwriting again, and
to receive your book, which I shall certainly read, but in
the only way in which I can read such books. If I try to
read Plato, Swedenborg, or any consecutive thinkers on
Spiritual matters, I feel like going mad ; and can get good
from them only by dipping chance-wise into their pages.
Indeed I am becoming impatient now {I am in my seventy-
third year) of all reading except novels, which I devour
eagerly when they are good, and from which I often get
concrete confirmations of my spiritual apprehensions, which
are of great value to me. A good love story by Henry
James, Geo. Meredith or Marion Crawford, con'oborates what


I have learned from mystics, and I care now far more for
corroboration than for new knowledge. I have got know-
ledge enough to occupy me in digesting, i. e., in corroborat-
ing, for the next billion or so of years.

I am sorry to say I am getting very old. My brain
power is not what it was, and I find little delight in life.
Much of that little will disappear when my boy goes to

Pray give my love to your wife, and believe me your
sincere old friend,

Coventry Patmore.



PATMORE'S letters to William Allmgham
have proved somewhat hard to decipher,
being much stained and disfigured. They
were stored for years in Rossetti's cellar, which was
flooded by an unusually high Thames.

Allingham at one time held so deservedly high a
position among his contemporaries, that it should be
unnecessary to explain who he was and what work
he published ; but readers of poetry are not numerous,
and memories are short. It may be as well there-
fore to give a very brief record of his life and work.

He was born at Ballyshannon in Ireland, in 1824,
and held appointments in the Customs in Ireland,
the Isle of Man, London, and for a time at Lymington.
In 1874 he succeeded J. A. Froude in the editorship
of Eraser's Magazine.

His first volume of poems was published in 1850 ;
" Day and Night Songs," including the " Music
Master," in 1854, editions of which volume, illus-
trated by Arthur Hughes, Rossetti, and Millais,
appeared in 1855 and i860. A long narrative poem,
" Laurence Bloomfield in Ireland," was printed in
"Eraser," and brought out in book form in 1864.
The most important of his later works were " Fifty
Modern Poems," published in 1865 ; "Songs, Ballads
and Stories," in 1877; a final edition of collected
works in six volumes in 1889 and 1890.

In 1874 Allingham married Miss Helen Paterson
the well-known artist.


His name occurs in these volumes in two connec-
tions. Two of Emily Augusta Patmore's letters to
him are printed in vol. i., p. 154-156, and he had,
while stationed at Lymington, encouraged Mr.
Doman to publish his poems. Patmore, when he
moved to Lymington, came to know and admire
these, and a friendship was formed between him and
their author. The poems discussed in these letters
are those of 1850 and of 1854, the long poem being
the " Music Master."

Museum, Aug. 19, 1849.

My Dear Mr. Allingham,

Before you go away I must endeavour to tell you
how much gratified I have been by our meeting.

Overwork, illness, and the disagreeable circumstance I
told you of yesterday, united their powers to put me quite
out of spirits during all the time I was with you ; and I am
fearful that this unfortunate depression prevented me from
seeming to value your society as much as I ought and did do.

Believe me, I have made no acquaintance — since I had
the happiness of making that of Mr. Tennyson — which has
given me such satisfaction as yours has done ; and my
liveliest regret is that I cannot think that you have received
nearly the same amount and kind of satisfaction from be-
coming acquainted with me. I may have given you some
pleasure by showing you my manuscripts, &c., but you
have given me the far higher delight of beholding a grave
and truthful character combined with a strong and quick
intellect and a free heart. You have refreshed me, and at
the same time deepened my depression. My habit of dili-
gently comparing myself with all I meet has shown me
certain defects of my own character which might have been
remedied by frequent juxta-position with yours — and per-
haps I may never see you again. This loss touches my
heart; for my most powerful faculty — I might almost say my
best virtue — is my true admiration of and desire to assimi-
late what is good in others — mind I say admiration and
desire to assimilate ; for, too often, both one and the other
are nearly fruitless in effect, or at least in effect that is
visible to myself But I am too egotistical, and have pro-
bably no business at all to write to you in my present habit


of mind. Let me hear from you soon, and I will reply. I
hope in a week or two to be in my sane mind. Particularly
let me hear about your long poem' as you get on with it.
If you succeed in making it what you can make it if you
work hard enough, I should be very glad to go into a
temporary partnership with you, " The Storm "^ being my
chief capital. Yours, &c.,

C. K. Patmore.

lOj Cambridge Villas,

Camden New Town,
Sept. 14, 1849.

My Dear Allingham,

.... Blake's print pleases me more than anything
of the kind that I have seen for a long time. Its extremely
pathetic character corroborates the view, which I have long
held, that pathos must be founded upon strength and the
most severe nobility.

I have often thought of you and of your verses since I
saw you — much more however of the former than of the
latter ; for these are but trifles compared with what I feel
persuaded that it is in your power to do, if only you will
put out your strength and strive indefatigably to do your
best. Many a first-rate genius has made only a second-rate
poet, because he has not chosen to work hard ; and it has
often happened that a man of inferior power, like Gray, has
won a lasting reputation with few other claims to it than
the " claims of industry." It seems to me that nothing ca^Vi
be better in the same way than some of the verses you
showed me. Let a brother-worker be allowed to urge you
never to do anything but your best.

I envy my brother ^ the pleasure of spending a week or
two with you in the country ; but I hope my turn may
come some day. If I may trust the impression of so short
an acquaintance with you, I think that we are adapted to
become friends. There are probably many years before us
yet ; and the next time we meet, it will be at least with the

' "The Music Master."

^ This was first printed in " Tamerton Church Tower " as "A
Thunder-Shower," and afterwards incorporated in " Faithful for

* Gurney Eugene Patmore.


advantage of increased knowledge on both sides, and there-
fore with less danger of that sad but frequent end of early
friendships, the exhaustion of each other's interest.

I am in better spirits now than when I saw you. The
sea-air has braced my nerves, and I feel fit for work. I
regret, however, that I am at present, and probably long
shall be, condemned to prose. When my Muse soars with
any effect you shall hear from me. Under similar, or any
other circumstances indeed, I shall be glad to hear from
you. I am a bad correspondent. That is, I cannot write
long letters, but I shall always be delighted to exchange a
flying leaf with you whenever you like.

Yours ever truly,

Coventry K. Patmore.

My Dear Allingham,

I have not time to write the long letter I desire to
write about your poems ; but I send you a line to say that
they please me better every time I read them. My anxiety
to see your more serious effort is very strong. Long poems
and short poems seem to require two different kinds of
faculty which are not often united in one person. Let me
again exhort you to add indefatigable energy to your gift
of musical feeling and expression. This last may do for
poems of a few stanzas, but " woodnotes wild " will never
satisfy the ear for more than a few minutes at a time. I
have recently made the acquaintance of Cross and Millais,
two artists who seem to me to be going on the right track
to cut out our quacks Landseer, Martin, &c., and our semi-
quacks, Eastlake, Etty and the like. I wish you were here
to know them.

Yours ever,

Coventry K. Patmore.

10, Cambridge Villas,

Camden New Town, London.
Nov. 12th, 1849.

My Dear Allingham,

.... You ask me whether your poems exhibit a
distinct style. I think so, decidedly ; though I imagine
that this distinction exists least where probably you imagine
it to be most pronounced — as in certain peculiarities of ex-
pression which I shall beg to protest against in detail when


I can find time to write you about the poems fully. Your
peculiar excellence is in the music of your verses. I do
not think that any living writer has the power of musical
versification so strikingly as you have it. Were yonr finish
uniformly equal to your musical feeling you might look, I
think, for no secondary place among living poets — but per-
haps you will not think that a compliment. Most people
would call the little poems you have sent me highly finished.
If I may judge of your rate of working by my own, I should
say that two months' hard labour is required before these
poems will be fit for publication — that is to say — before
they will be as good as you can make them. Do not turn
pale or laugh. Such an amount of labour would not be
wasted. It would make all the difference between the
beach pebble and the beautiful agate. But I am volunteer-
ing advice which I have not a right to expect to prove ac-
ceptable. The only right I have to give it is in the fact
that I myself act upon it to the best of my power — therein
making my little power go as far as it can. I am anxious
to see your more important performance. The impression
I received from the parts you read me was not so good as
I could wish. It seemed to me at the moment, that your
faculty lay in the expressly lyrical, and that it ought there-
fore to limit itself to short pieces. But I hope and expect
to be disappointed very agreeably by finding that you have
this power of producing a finished and effective narrative
poem. You seem to me to be too sharp a fellow not to
know wherein your own power lies, much better than I can
tell you. I had a letter from Tennyson a few days ago
and I am constantly expecting to see him here.

Trusting that you will feel inclined to write pretty fre-
quently, I remain

Very faithfully yours,

Coventry K. Patmore.

P.S. — I wish you were in town now. There are some
capital fellows — artists and otherwise, to whom I should
beg to introduce you.

Museum, Jany. 5, 1850.
My Dear Allingham,

A few artists — young and for the most part illustrious
tho' as yet obscure (Hunt, Millais, G. Rossetti, &c.), have
set a-going a small magazine upon a sound system. The


first No. has appeared, and is full of good poetry and notice-
able criticism, and has an exquisite etching by Hunt. I
think you would like to form one of the corporation sub-
scribing (one shilling per month) and contributing (gratis).
The title is "The Germ." I will send you a number to
judge of The little poem called " The Seasons " is mine.
How gets on the " Music Master " ?

Yours ever,

C. K. Patmore.

British Museum.

Feb. 8, 1850.
My Dear Allingham,

.... To-day I have had posted a copy of " The
Germ," No. 2, which is better than No. i, I think. They have
begun too hastily, and I hope they will greatly improve as
they go on. They will be very grateful to you for anything
you may send up, but they won't pay you anything for it.

Pray excuse my not sending you the unfinished poem '
you asked for. I have a feeling for a poem upon which I
am engaged so long as it is entirely in my hands, which
disappears when a single copy is gone forth, and the feeling
is an essential support to me while I fag about its comple-
tion. Besides, I would for your own sake refuse. The
poem I am about, when it is finished, and if it comes new
upon you, will rejoice your heart ; but the effect will be
much damaged if I let you become familiar with the key-
note first.

Yours faithfully,

C. K. Patmore.

P.S. — Don't you think that you had better remain strictly
anonymous in all your doings in verse and prose for the
present ?

March 12, 1850.
My Dear Allingham,

I agree with you about " The Germ " in the main.
Pray let me see Part I. of " The Music Master." I would
not ask if I did not feel that your kindness privileges me to
say what I think about your poems.

' This was no doubt "Tamerton Church Tower."


The little pieces which I have in my possession grow
upon me every time I look at them. It is very foolish to
say anything of a sound poet upon a slight acquaintance
with him. I find that I was hasty for condemning them
for want of finish — it was my appreciation of them that
wanted finish.

I hear that you have had the misfortune to be publicly
praised by that coxcomb of coxcombs, Gilfillan. I hope I
am not deceiving myself as to the existence of any true
merit in your effusions ; certainly there could scarcely be a
more persuading argument against you than the laudations
of that Puppy. I long to see you. Is there any chance
of my doing so ? Have you read Maurice's " Kingdom of
Christ ? " I have lately been doing so — to my shame that
I had not read it before. You will be behind your age if
you do not give that book your conscientious perusal.

Tennyson is in town. I see him almost daily.

Yours faithfully,

C. K. Patmore.

March 21, 1850.

My Dear Allingham.

Your poem has just reached me, and, as you directed,
I have read it at first quite uncritically, and for the total
effect, which seems to me to be very pure and touching. I
shall read it several times before I send you any decided

Online LibraryBasil ChampneysMemoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) → online text (page 13 of 36)