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Memoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) online

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am so eager to express my sense of my debt to you for the
pleasure you have given me that I make free to send you
some writing of my own — now out of print — in the hope
that it may show sufficient acquaintance with your art to
save my commendations from being put down for an im-
pertinence.

I am, sir,

Yours faithfully,

Coventry Patmore.

To T. Hardy, Esq.

In his " Fortnightly" article on Barnes (46, 659),
Patmore had spoken of Thomas Hardy as *' our first
English novelist." This was the occasion of the
following letter. Later he wrote an appreciation
of Mr. Hardy's work, which appeared in the " St.
James's Gazette " (April 2, 1887).

Max Gate,

nr. Dorchester,

II Nov., 1886.

My Dear Sir,

I have only seen the " Fortnightly " within the last
day or two, or I should have written you before now a line
of thanks for the good feeling which prompted your word
about me as a novelist. It is what I might have deserved
if my novels had been exact transcripts of their original
irradiated conception, before any attempt at working out
that glorious dream had been made — and the impossibility
of getting it on paper had been brought home to me.

Your criticism of Barnes's work was most instructive. I



LETTERS TO DYKES CAMPBELL 26



o



have lived too much within his atmosphere to see his pro-
ductions in their due perspective, as you see them. My
disappointment was great that the article was no longer :
the opening remarks were of a kind to set one thinking
deeply.

I find, and I daresay you do also, that it is extremely
difficult to convey a notion of Barnes's quality as a poet by
selections, however carefully chosen. I cannot explain this ;
but the fact remains.

I am, my dear Sir,

Yours sincerely,

Thomas Hardv.

During the later years of Patmore's residence at
Hastings, Mr. Dykes Campbell, the biographer of
Coleridge, was his neighbour, and became his intimate
friend. Patmore used to take his visitors on Sunday
mornings to visit Mr. Campbell, while many of Mr.
Campbell's friends were introduced to Patmore. It
was through him that Patmore became acquainted
with Mr. St. Clair Baddeley, as will be seen by later
correspondence.

Hastings, Feb. 22, 1888.

My Dear Campbell,

I thank you very much for informing me, more fully
than I have as yet been able to become acquainted with, the
state of my old friend Mrs. Procter's health.

I had heard that she was very unwell, and I wrote a
week or two ago to ask if I should have a chance of seeing
her if I went to town, but Miss Procter answered there was
none.

I fear that her illness is all the more likely to prove a
total break up, because she has hitherto preserved such

wonderful health, and to such a great age

Believe me, yours very truly,

Coventry Patmore.



Hastings, March 7th, 1888.
My Dear Campbell,

I expected your news, of course. I did not know
that Mrs. Procter's age was so great. She was, in that and



264 COVENTRY PATMORE

more important ways, the most remarkable woman I have
ever known. Some one — I forget who — told me that she
had made notes of her social and literary experiences for
future publication. No one else of our generation had so
much matter for" Memoirs," and, I should think, none could
have known better how to present it.^

Yours very truly,

Coventry Patmore.



Hastings, May 7, 1888.
My Dear Campbell,

I did not complain of want of " form," but of
" style," which is a totally different thing. Style appears
to me to be the very innermost soul and substance of
poetry — a thing beyond words, the all and alone precious
individuality of the singer — inexpressible by words, but
yet breathed through them, when the poet is a true one.
There is little " form " in Herrick or William Barnes, but
there is style — the true essential of poetry — very marked
in each. When I said that manner was more important
than matter in poetry, I really meant that the true matter
of poetry could only be expressed by the manner. A poet
may be choke full of the deepest thoughts and the deepest
feeling, may express them brilliantly and stirringly, and
yet he may not be a poet of the first order, if the expres-
sions want that ineffable aroma of individuality which I
mean by style. I find the brilliant thinking and the deep
feeling in Browning, but no true individuality — though of
course his manner is marked enough.

Yours very truly,

C. Patmore,



Hastings, Aug. 28 [1888?].
My Dear Campbell,

Thanks for Walt Whitman's effusion. He should
go about with Sequah^ in a waggon with bells, and sing the
advent of democracy between the intervals of tooth-draw-



^ Mrs. Procter's memoirs and correspondence must have been
of unique value. All have, I fear, perished.
^ An itinerant dentist.



LETTERS TO DYKES CAMPBELL 265

ing. He would certainly secure " the thumb-mark of the
Artisan," ^ for his classical style.

Yours ever truly,

C. PATMORE.



2, Buckingham Place, Mount Ephraim,

Tonbridge Wells, Oct. i, 1889.
My Dear Campbell,

Thank you for your kindness in sending me my
Father's old "Examiner" papers, which, like the poems, I
had never seen.

I have received Ireland's book,^ and find parts of it very
amusing reading, though it absolutely confirms the ancient
impression that Hazlitt ^ was a flashy and quite second-rate
writer, with a " certain gift of the gab," suggesting genius.
Of course I dipped first into " my first acquaintance with
poets," and there I find him setting down Coleridge as
" capricious, perverse, and prejudiced in his antipathies and
distastes," because forsooth, he (Hazlitt) could not get him
(Coleridge) to enter into the merits of " Caleb Williams " (!),
or to hold, with the writer of " Liber Amoris," that Butler's
Analogy is a " tissue of sophistry, of wondrous theological
special pleading."

Hoping to see you here soon.

Yours truly,

Coventry Patmore.



May 10, 1890.
My Dear Campbell,

Thanks for "Athenaeum". You are not a bad hand at
the tomahawk. We shall go to the heaven of the Vikings,



^ This alludes to a phrase of Lord Rosebery's, of which
Patmore has made fun in his essay on " Distinction," and else-
where.

* The book alluded to is " William Hazlitt, Essayist and Critic.
Selections from his Writings, with a Memoir Biographical and
Critical, 1889."

^ This letter confirms what I had written (vol. i., pp. 19-20),
concerning Patmore's low estimate of Hazlitt and its probable
causes.



266 COVENTRY PATMORE

slaying our enemies all morning for ever, and sipping claret
over their corpses all night.

Do you see that " Patmore's Poems, First Edition," which
you got the other day for £i, sold at Gaisford's sale for
£14.? It seems I am looking up, in spite of the Council of
the Ten or so.

Yours ever,

Coventry Patmore.



Lymington, Hants, June 4, '95.

Dear Mrs. Campbell,

Your telegram was a terrible shock to me. Your
husband was one of the three or iowx friends I had left, and
one of the very few thorough and reliable gentlemen I have
ever known. It always seems to me that words of condo-
lence, at such a time, are worse than impertinence ; and you
cannot require to be reminded of the great though severe
consolation of knowing how greatly and widely he was
esteemed for his extraordinary gifts and high-mindedness.

Mrs. Patmore desires me to express her profound
sympathy.

Believe me.

Yours ever truly,

Coventry Patmore.

Lymington, Hants, June 28, '96.

Dear Mrs. Campbell,

I thank you very much for Mr. Stephen's little
Memoir * of your husband, and for what you tell me and
Mrs. Patmore about his last hours. Would that I might
have as painless and sudden an end to the weariness which
life has become, through weakness of the heart, which
refuses to propel the blood through brain and body in
quantities sufficient to sustain sensitive life.
Believe me,

Yours very truly,

Coventry Patmore.



^ By Mr. Leslie Stephen ; prefixed to the second edition
(1896) of Mr. Campbell's " Life of Coleridge."



LETTERS TO ST. CLAIR BADDELEY 267

To St. Clair Baddeley, Esq.

Lymington, July 25,

[1893]-
My Dear Baddeley,

Many thanks for your Poem ' which is full of beauty.
To me its defect is that it glorifies its subject too highly.
I know I may be wrong, but I cannot reckon T. with the
truly great poets. He is, of course, an immortal. No one
ever wrote so well on his own line. But he did very little
which seems to me to have been greatly conceived or
passionately and deeply felt.

Yours ever truly,

Coventry Patmore.



Lymington, Thursday.
Mv Dear Baddeley,

It has occurred to me that you might possibly be
even more interested in Mrs. Meynell's poetry than in her
prose.

I therefore send you my copy, which please return at
your leisure. The poetry seems to me to have a quite unique
strain of lofty sweetness and pathos and delicate reticence.

Yours very truly,

Coventry Patmore.

If you go to Palace Court some Sunday afternoon, you
should ask Mrs. Meynell to sing to you. She is almost as
accomplished, in all sorts of ways, as you are.

The following letter to Mr. Sidney Colvin Is evi-
dently misdated. It should be 1885. Patmore paid
his first visit to Cambridge with me in 1884 (alluded
to vol. i., p. Z1l)- Ruskin's pamphlet, " Elements of
English Prosody, for use in St. George's Schools,"
appeared in 1885. It is evident from Ruskin's letters
to Patmore, printed later in this volume, that he
had read Patmore's essay on metre. It is however
characteristic of Ruskin that, having read the work



"Tennyson's Grave."



268 COVENTRY PATMORE

of another, he should have dealt with the same sub-
ject on his own lines, and of Patmore that he should
have forgotten Raskin's letter.

Patmore's essay on Keats, republished from the
" St. James's Gazette" (June 28, 1887), is a review of
Mr. Colvin's " Keats " (" English Men of Letters,"
1887). Patmore's opinion of Keats, or rather
opinions, for they varied somewhat (compare his
letters to Mr. Sutton with his published essay), are
illustrated in many portions of these volumes.

Hastings, June 3, 1881.
Mv Dear Colvin,

I have been intending to write to you something
about Ruskin's pamphlet on metre, which I found extremely
interesting. It is on the same lines with my essay, which it
is a pity he had not read. Like all he writes, this pamphlet
is full of lights, but it is not one sufficient light. I had
thought to have pointed out what I think deficiencies in his
tract, and also to have given you further proofs of the essen-
tially ^//>(9(^



Online LibraryBasil ChampneysMemoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) → online text (page 21 of 36)