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some measure have contributed to his conversion
to the Roman Catholic Church.

Rome, March lo, '64.
My Dear Garnett,

I took sixteen days getting to Rome by easy stages,
spending two at Paris, four at Nice, four at Genoa, and
one at Leghorn and Pisa. Everything, till I got to Rome,
surpassed my best expectations, especially Genoa, but
Rome, though I expected little, falls short even of that
little, as far as I have yet seen. The ruins of imperial
Rome are for the most part poor and without beauty. The
Coliseum and the Baths of Caracalla are big, but not much
else ; and the arches, remains of temples, etc., are as ugly
as they can well be.

The Vatican sculptures are more remarkable for quantity
than quality, our Elgin room being worth the whole lot
three times over.

There are a good many great pictures in the different
galleries, but, with this exception, I have as yet seen nothing


in Rome vv^orth going a hundred miles to look at. The city
itself is a miserable, dirty, third-rate town, with a good
many large houses, but so dispersed and lost in filthy alleys
that they do not give any general impression of greatness.
Concerning St. Peter's — this : I got up the morning after I
came, and wandered about the town, and was a good while
approaching a largish church and was about to pass it by,
when I remarked a double colonnade and two fountains
and an obelisk, and was aware that I stood before the chief
cathedral in Christendom.

I have seen and been blessed by the Pope, have been to
church in the Sistine Chapel, had drives in the Campagna,
etc. ; but it all seems very small and commonplace some-
how, and, but for the pleasant people I know in Rome,
I should be beginning to be tired of it. Ever since I came
the weather has been as hot as July is once in seven years
or so in England. I do not yet feel the benefit of the
change, for the travelling nearly killed me, it was so bad.
I am crippled with rheumatism caught in the night-travel-
ling — for nearly all the travelling is done by night.

Ever truly yours,

Coventry Patmore.

Hotel della Minerva, Rome,

March 15, '64.

My Dear Garnett,

* * * * *

I am beginning to like Rome a good deal better than
I did at first. I have made the acquaintance of a con-
siderable circle of very pleasant people, so that my evenings
are busier than my days. I have also seen some very fine
pictures since I wrote, and a better acquaintance with the
interiors and inhabitants of the Roman houses has disposed
me to feel kinder towards the scrubby outside of the Eternal
City. My health is beginning to improve, I think, though
I have scarcely yet recovered from the knocking about I
had in coming here.

* * * # *

Ever truly yours,

Coventry Patmore.


Rome, March ^ 7, 1864.

My Dear Garnett,


I am getting to like Rome and the Romans more
and more, though my first impression of the place, from the
architectural point of view, is not improved. I have made
several very agreeable acquaintances, and shall feel more
regret in leaving the place than I have ever before felt on
leaving any place that was not home. My cough is nearly
gone, and my health generally better. We have got the
north wind now instead of the poisonous " Sirocco " which
was blowing the first fortnight.

I went to the Protestant Burial Ground to see if I could find
some violets for you on the graves of Shelley and Keats.
I have got one from Shelley's and three from Keats's. It
was a little too late. A week before, I was told, the two
graves were a mass of violets. The violets grow here in
wonderful abundance,and the Campagna and the sides of the
Sabine and Alban Hills are covered with " garden flowers"
— jonquils, periwinkles, anemones, tulips, etc., growing wild.
These hills (from 3,000 to 5, 000 feet high) are most lovely.
You and your wife must come here some day. It would
be a real addition to your lives. It seems to me that the
charm of Rome and its environs consists not so much in
the striking character as in the immense abundance of its
interest and beauty.

Only, if you come, let it be for at least a month. It will
take you a week to get over the smells and the architecture.
But at the end of a month you will love the dear, dirty,
hideous town as you would some friend whose ungainly
exterior had caused you to commit injuries against him, to
which he had replied by loading you with benefits.

I am enjoying singular opportunities of becoming ac-
quainted with Roman Rome. My Catholic friends have
made me acquainted with many of the most distinguished
Cardinals and " Monsignors," and I have made a point of
seeing out-of-the-way things — as schools, hospitals, prisons,
etc. The result is that I think far more highly of the ad-
ministration of matters here than it is the fashion to think

^ The postmark shows that this date is wrong. It should be


in England, and incomparably higher of the ordinary tone
of ecclesiastical life, and of the effect of " priestcraft " on
the common people, who, as far as I can see, owe all the
abundant good they have to the priests, and all their evil
to the infection of the Revolution.

Ask Mr. M'Caur to do something to setting public
opinion right by using this information in his next sermon.
If he does, and should be coming to Rome, I will give him
a letter to the General of the Jesuits — a charming person,
full of apostolic simplicity and innocence of the world.

Remember me very kindly to your wife, and believe me,

Ever truly yours,

Coventry Patmore.

My Dear Garnett,

Rome, May 7, 1864.

I am still improving in health, and retrograding in
" civil and religious " principle. I don't know much about
the Mortara case, but I know that Rome is by far the most
religious and the least canting place I have ever seen, and
I am only sorry I cannot live in a villa at Frascati and
come in every day, for the rest of my life, to my catalogu-
ing at the Vatican. You must come some day. Rome
fits all sorts of tastes. There are the shrines of Shelley and
Keats for you and the Limina Apostolorum for me, and

nobody to meddle with other people's likings.

* * * * *

Yours most truly,

Coventry Patmore.

The following letter refers to the " Florilegium
Amantis" (see vol. i., p. 172).

Hastings, April 12, '79.
My Dear Garnett,

I am glad that the editor has done your work justice.
The gold-digger who extracts an ounce of metal from a ton
of sandy slush has a good title to the proceeds ! I am not
jealous. I only hope that I may come in for a faint reflec-
tion of your fame. The astonishing thing to me is that the

^ The Rev. Mr. McCaul was an assistant in the library of the
British Museum, and an extremely low churchman.


" Athenaeum " should have brought itself to admit that
there was an ounce of gold hidden in the ton of muck.

Pray don't tell anyone " connected with the Press " that
/gave you any hints in the course of your labours. If it
were known that I had anj part in " Florilegium," we should
both lose whatever credit we may otherwise derive from it.
So strongly are the " gang " impressed with the necessity of
keeping me in a lowly frame of mind.

Yours ever truly and gratefully,


The following may be compared with the me-
morandum given vol. i., p. 161.

Hastings, Aug. 12, 1881.
My Dear Garnett,

I return your friend's letter with thanks to you for
sending it to me. It is one of several proofs I have had of
the extraordinary effects oi form in determining people's
estimate of the substance. You know well enough that, for
the most part, the substance of the " Angel " is exactly on
the same level as that of the "Odes," which would [? should]
be just as imposing and affecting to any exclusive admirers
of " Eros " as any of the pieces in the poem. I am very
glad, as it is, that I bethought myself of stilts, for the sake
of such as could not see me without.

We are all prosperous except Henry. I sent him on a
voyage to the Cape for the general benefit of his constitu-
tion — though there was nothing particular the matter with
him — and he has come back with a congested lung, which,
under the circumstances, is disturbing.

With my kind regards to your wife,

Yours ever truly,

C. Patmore.

The letter to which the above refers is as follows :

Milford House, 7 Aug., 1881.
Dear Mr. Garnett,

Thank you for your " Florilegium." It is a very
welcome gift. It is just what I wanted, and what I was
wishing I had by me only the other day. How very kind
of you to send it to me.

More than once I fear I have shocked Mr. de Vere by


my inability to appreciate Mr. Patmore. In truth I could
not understand his and many another's admiration for the
" Angel in the House." I tried to and could not read the
book, and I frankly told him so. But, when in the " Pall
Mall " I came across " The Toys," " Let Be," etc., I was
completely carried away by the strength and insight of the
poet. I wondered and wondered who the new singer was.
His words were always haunting me. I never dreamed he
was the author I had lost patience with. And, when I heard
that he was, I wondered more.

As soon as Parliament is up we shall get away to the
sea. The " Florilegium " will be one of my holiday com-
panions, and with curiosity as well as interest I shall care-
fully study it. Indeed, if the truth were told, it kept me up
late last night, and beguiled me from the weekly crowd of

With kind regards from my family,

I am, dear Mr. Garnett,

Yours very sincerely,

A. Lambert.

The writer of the preceding letter was Miss Agnes
Lambert, daughter of Sir John Lambert, secretary to
the Poor Law Board. She subsequently became a
friend of Coventry Patmore.

Hastings, Feby. 25, 1883.

My Dear Garnett,

You will be sorry to hear, that my son Henry died
yesterday. After staying with us ten days, he went back
to town the Tuesday before last, our doctor assuring us that
he was then much better in health than he was when he
first went to London last November; but the same evening
he wrote a desponding letter to say he did not feel fit to
be alone. I at once sent for him. For three days before
Sunday last he seemed particularly well, and ordered new
law-books from Town, that he might study here until it
was fine weather for him to return to his office. On
Sunday last he went to Church without my knowledge,
through heavy rain, and in the damp crypt of our new
Church. Here he seems to have caught a cold, which
rapidly proved to be pleurisy, and, having no strength to
stand so wasting a malady, it carried him off in this terribly
short time.


You know how good and promising a young man he
was, and can partly understand my loss.

Yours very truly,

C. Patmore.

Wardour Castle,

Tisbury, Wilts,

May 30, 1886.
My Dear Garnett,

I believe my new edition will be out to-morrow. I
have told Bell to send you a copy. The last time I talked
with you, you kindly volunteered an expression of your
willingness to repeat the kindness you did me, and, I will
have the boldness to sa\", the service you did the reading
public some months ago. You know that I have all my
life abstained from putting myself and from trying to get
myself put forward ; but I now find that there is such a
tacit consent among newspaper critics to suffocate by
ignoring the best work I have done, that I do not mind
saying that I shall be very grateful to you or any one else
who will help to preserve " Eros " from being " burked." I
feel a confidence — which is ridiculous or not according to
the grounds that there may be for that confidence — that
" Eros " is a work of classical quality, but there are so few
now who can recognize such quality, and so far fewer who
have the generosity to try to get such quality acknowledged
when they see it, that " Eros " is in danger of never getting
enough of the wind of public recognition under his wings
to carry him down to the posterity of whose verdict he is
confident, if he can only secure a hearing. I do not know
whether you do work now for the " Saturday," but that
would be better than the " Spectator," if you do.

Yours very truly,

C. Patmore.

I expect to be in Hastings again on Wednesday.

Patmore's connection with Mr. Monckton Milnes,
afterwards Lord Houghton, has been recorded in
vol. i. pp. 63-67. Peter George Patmore had pre-
served very many letters, some of which are of con-
siderable literary interest.



British Museum, March 3, 1856.
My Dear Mr. Milnes,

I hoped, on looking over my father's autographs to
have found several of interest enough to have been worthy
of places in your collection, which I imagine to be one that
does not include any but such as are of personal or literary
interest, besides being the handwriting of distinguished
men. My search, as yet, has turned up only three which
are worthy being offered to you, and of an interest which
has already been made sufficiently public to allow of their
being offered without any breach of privacy. As I am too
much obliged to you to feel comfortable in offering you any-
thing that could be supposed to be of value to myself, I
must tell you that I am barbarously indifferent to and in-
capable of the interest which attaches to relics of this sort,
and that the only pleasure I should feel in possessing any
amount of them would be that which I should receive in
giving them to those who better deserved to possess them.
I remain,

My dear Mr. Milnes,

Very sincerely yours,

Coventry Patmore.
R. M. Milnes, Esq., M.P.

The two letters which follow refer severally to
matters alluded to in vol. i., — the attribution to
P. G. Patmore of the articles on Keats (p. 66), and
the application to be placed on the Commission of
the Peace (p. 238).

British Museum,

January 27, 1863.
My Dear Mr. Milnes,

I send by book-post copies of the articles from the
London Magazine. You should have had them before, but
the person who first undertook to get them copied for me
fell ill, and delayed the work several days.

Within the last two or three days I have heard, through
a literary friend, that a gentleman, who was a friend of
Hazlitt and seems to be particularly well-acquainted with
his doings and whereabouts in 1820, says positively that
these papers are not Hazlitt's.


If they are not, they can have been written by no one
else than my Father. When I first read them, I attributed
them at once to my father, who wrote in the London
Magazine, and also wrote some important eulogistic articles
on Keats, — I was never informed where. The articles are
full of his favourite quotations from Shakespeare, etc., and
are exactly in his early style, which was exactly like
Hazlitt's, — only I thought, on further consideration at the
time, that the boldness and decision of the views pointed
them out as rather belonging to Hazlitt.

I am, My dear Mr. Milnes,

Ever truly yours,

Coventry Patmore.

Hastings, May 5, '76,

My Dear Lord Houghton,

The Earl of Chichester is Lord Lieutenant for East
Sussex. I propose to spend the rest of my days here,
having got the house I have been wishing to get all my
life, on a long lease. I have property in the Parish of
Buxted, East Sussex, in which is also Hastings. There
are, I am told, very few Catholics on the Commission in
East Sussex, and the absence of them is sometimes felt in
prison and other arrangements.

But if, as I infer from your note, the making of a
magistrate is a more difficult thing than I fancied, and,
above all, if the appointment would in the least degree
hamper my freedom of speech, I beg you not to give my
request another thought. The thing is one of those which,
without being anxious to have, I thought it right to give
Providence the chance of giving me. The absolute leisure
which of late years I have " enjoyed," I have found to be
very adverse to literary production. I should probably
have done ten times more in that way, if I had had some-
thing else to do. . . .

My dear Lord Houghton,

Yours very truly,

C. Patmore.

Patmore's association w^ith William Barnes, the
Dorsetshire poet, has been recorded in vol. i., p. 208.
There are also references to him in the letters to


Mr. Edmund Gosse, given later. His earlier reviews
of Barnes's poems are to be found in the " North
British Review," 31 : 339 and " Macmillan's Maga-
zine," 6: 154; the later, in the "St. James's Gazette,"
Oct. 9, 1886, the "Fortnightly Review," 46: 659,
republished in " Religio Poetse," and in the "St.
James's," Dec. 19, 1887 : the last is a notice of " The
Life of William Barnes, Poet and Philologist," by
his daughter, Lucy Baxter. In this review occurs
the following passage, which shows how the sympathy
between the poets, originating in their art, must have
been strengthened and confirmed by similar experi-
ence of bereavement.

" His profoundly affectionate nature never got over the
death of his wife, which occurred thirty-five years before
his own. ' As years went on,' writes his daughter, ' his
paroxysms of grief became less violent ; but to the time of
his death the word " Giulia " ^ was written like a sigh at
the end of each day's entry in his Italian journal.' "

Highwood Cottage,

Aug. 25, 1859.
Dear Sir,

I feel the liveliest pleasure from your approval of
my own " Homely Rhymes." May I take the liberty of
saying that your poems have given me the most unmixed
pleasure 1 have received from any poetry of our time ?
On reading Wordsworth and Burns I have often regretted
the want in each of what the other possessed. I seem to
find the spirits of the two united in a perfectly original
way in your poems, which are household words with us.
I am.

Dear Sir,

Truly and respectfully yours,

Coventry Patmore.
The Rev. William Barnes.

Mrs. Barnes's maiden name was Julia Miles.


British Museum,

January 17, 1861.
My Dear Sir,

I have to ask your pardon for a long delay in ac-
knowledging your welcome letter, and thanking you for
your kind wish to review " Faithful for Ever." Should the
opportunity ever occur to you, I shall take up the Review
with feelings very different from those which I commonly
begin to read notices of my verses. I have the pleasant
consciousness of having introduced your poetry into several
family circles, by which, if you knew them, I am sure you
would be glad to know that you are received as a dear
friend. To me, and to these, there could be few greater
treats than a new volume of " Homely Rhymes."
I am,

My dear Sir,

Most truly yours,

Coventry PatiMORE.
Reverend W. Barnes.

Elm Cottage, North End,

June 5, 1862.
Dear Sir,

I take the liberty of sending you a copy of a notice
in " Macmillan's Magazine." Your Poems give me such
singular pleasure that I hope you will pardon me for thus
communicating with you again, without having had the
honour of a personal introduction to you. Should you be
coming to town to see the Exhibition, a call from you at
the British Museum would be a favour which I should
never forget. To have the pleasure of thanking you person-
ally for the delight your Poems have given her, is also the
earnest wish of my wife, who, you will be sorry to hear, has
been for a long time most dangerously, and is now hope-
lessly ill.

I am.

Dear Sir,

Most truly and respectfully yours,

Coventry Patmore.

The Reverend William Barnes.


British Museum,

June lo, 1862.
My Dear Sir,

As the notices in the " North British Review," and
in " Macmillan's Magazine " pleased you, I cannot resist the
temptation to tell you that I wrote them myself. They
but poorly express all the admiration and gratitude I feel.
I am rejoiced at the hope of seeing you in London. I thank
you much for your kind invitation to Dorchester, but I feel
that there is little prospect of my being able to venture
from the bedside of my sick wife. I am glad to hear from
Professor Masson that there is a prospect of a new edition
of your Poems — which I take it for granted will include
many new pieces.

I am,

My dear Sir,

Most truly yours,

Coventry Patmore.

The Reverend William Barnes.

British Museum,

July 16, 1862.
My Dear Mr. Barnes,

Your letter to my sister-in-law (my wife's sister and
brother's wife) was a real happiness to me. The number
of my children is the same as yours, and it is much to find
that you are able to speak from a matured experience of
the result of a like loss so consolingly. I can already per-
ceive and fully feel the love of God, in this inexpressible
loss. It was the thing my life required. It will be easy to
draw near to " Christ " iiow She is with Him, and it will be
to draw near to Her ; and, as for the children, I feel that,
not a double but, a fourfold power of tenderness and watch-
fulness, will henceforward be in me, to supply their mother's
loss. I thank God too that so much time was given to
me to foresee and prepare for the event, which my brain
could not have borne had it not been for the long prepara-
tion of fear. I know of no one with whom I should so
much like to spend a few days, just now, as with yourself. . . .
I am, my dear Mr. Barnes,

Most truly yours,

Coventry Patmore.


The following" is an extract from a letter the re-
mainder of which is of too intimate a nature to be
printed here. Not long after this was written, Pat-
more paid Barnes a visit. See vol. i., p. 208.

March 27, 1863.

I steadfastly intend to see you this year. Your poetry
and so much of your history as you have kindly vouchsafed
to tell me attract me as I am attracted by no other. I
always however somewhat dread meeting for the first time
any for whom — without knowing them — I have formed
such feelings.

I have placed the two following- letters together, as
Rossetti's explains the allusions in Patmore's, to which
it is an answer. The Satire on the " Athenaeum "
might appear somewhat gratuitous to those who were
ignorant that it had, under Mr. Chorley's influence,
constituted itself the oro;an for virulent onslaughts
on the Prse-Raphaelite school of painters, and pub-
lished a spiteful parody of the "Angel", the two
attacks being closely associated. See vol. i., p. 170,

British Museum,
Monday, 1856.
My Dear Rossetti,

After a capital night's rest and a comfortable break-
fast, I contemplated your Dante and Beatrice with greater
delight and profit than I ever received from any other picture,
without exception. For the time, it has put me quite out
of conceit with my own work, and I must forget the severe
and heavenly sweetness of that group of bridesmaids before
I shall be able to go on contentedly in my less exalted
strain. The other drawing, at its present stage, does not
affect me nearly so powerfully ; though I feel the soft and
burning glow of colour. The symbolism is too remote and
unobvious to strike me as effective — but I do not pretend
to set any value by my own opinion on such matter. I read
all your copied-out translations, after you left, with pleasure


scarcely less than that with which I looked upon your pic-
ture. I long to be able to read the whole of them quietly
at home. I can fancy the stare of the " Athenaeum " and
other critics on opening this book of translations when you
publish it. The train of thought the consideration of this led
me into terminated in the perpetration of my first epigram
— on fools in general and the " Athenaeum " in particular :

" He calls his hearer such, who says
' Ass ! ' of what so loudly brays."

A useful formula for the utterance of the unutterable.

Yours faithfully,

To D. G. Rossetti, Esq.

Coventry Patmore.

Wednesday night.

Dear Patmore,

Many thanks for your very kind note. Your mar-
ginal comment on my drawing had already gratified me
much ; but to have satisfied you so well as your letter ex-
presses, is a very great pleasure to me. The best one can
hope as a painter just now is to have a place of some kind
among those who are to do for painting, as far as possible,
what you and a very few more poets are doing now for
poetry. I'm sure the drawing will gain much with Ruskin,
to whom it belongs, by your good opinion. It, as well as
the other one, I hope before long to show you finished ;
and am obstinate enough not to give up the hope that the
*' Passover " may please you more then than now. Perhaps I

Online LibraryBasil ChampneysMemoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) → online text (page 18 of 36)