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Memoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) online

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following up those in my former note. Your poem is
certainly homogeneous, and is so evidently tempered to your
own pulse, that no remarks or advice could or should be in-
fluential to the author. At least, for my own part, I can't
see how such could be of any service. There is an idiosyn-
cratic difference that causes men to view life and marriage
every one in a different aspect. Your poem presents them
in a lovable and delectable form very complete in itself, the
amount of passion and exaltation being commensurate with
the circumstances in which you place your actors. What
strikes one at first however is the continual recurrence of
dainty speculations — the emotional portions and the motives
of the history losing themselves everywhere [each] in the
other, so to speak. But this impression is the result of the
" Accompaniments " and " Sentences " you have placed


between the leaves of the history, no doubt with fore-

On returning I found my wife had lent it to a little dove
of a quaker, who seems to be making love to you in her
heart, — " But thou knows he hath a wife," she says.
Is the next part in shape yet ?

William B. Scott.
C. Patmore.

The Rev. William Barnes to Coventry Patmore.

Dorchester, 22 Dec, i860.
My Dear Sir,

I am ashamed that my first thanks for the pure
pleasure of the reading of your new volume of sweet-fancied
poems should have been again sent you on the receiving of
a copy as a gift, as I guess, from your kind hands. I had
hoped to have it in our reading club for which we order a
year's books next week ; and it has been a frequent thought
with me that, if I found my way to a good magazine, I
might write a paper on Petrarch and woman's mission of
refinement, and take up your muse as the representative
in our times of that of Petrarch.

Your former volume has been well handled here; but I
find, what I daresay you already know, that it is appreciated
in direct proportion to the reader's refinement.

I have not written anything for twelve months, in which
I have had many great cares, but I hope that by Divine
goodness I may next year invite back my muse to a more
quiet heart. I am,

My dear sir,

Yours ever truly,
W. Barnes.
Coventry Patmore, Esq.

The review alluded to in the following- letter was
by Patmore, and appeared in (" Macmillan," 6, 144).
See Patmore's letters to William Barnes, pp. 238-
240, to some of which these are answers. In the
same year, 1862, Captain Seymour Dawson Damer
presented Barnes to the Rectory of Came.


Dorchester, 7 June, 1862.

My Dear Sir,

I thank you very much for your kind thought of
me in the sending to me the notice from " Macmillan's Maga-
zine." It is, I am fearful, too kind, though I know not the
writer. I am very happy with your permission to call on
you in London, whither I think I may go before the
summer is over, as I have an invitation to spend a week
with a London friend ; and, as I hope to retire about August
to a rectory lately given me near this town by Captn.
Damer, I may have a little more time to see a friend at
home or abroad, and hope you may come down and spend
a kw days with me. I grieve for the cloud of sickness that
overcasts the presence of your Angel of the House, and
should very much like to see the wife of our English

I am, my dear sir,

Yours very truly,
W. Barnes.
Coventry Patmore, Esq.

Dorchester, 11 June, 1862.

My Dear Sir,

God bless you ! I was quite misled as to the writer
of the paper in " Macmillan's Magazine," as Mr. Macmillan
had told me, on writing some time ago on one of my papers
in his magazine, that Mr. Venables meant to review my
rhymes, and then afterwards I was told by a neighbour,
who knows one of the Macmillan staff, that Mr. Venables,

he thought, would leave it for Mr. , or somebody

else ; so that while I was drawn quite away from the source
of the kindness I did not know where to refer it. I can
only thank you again as I thanked you unknown in my
note to the editor ; but certainly I rate higher than ever the
praise of your notice, since a laudato viro laudari is a
high honor, as it is to find one's work approved by a perfectly
good workman.

Did I not feel that the judgment of most of my favorable
reviewers, and of you especially, could not be dictated by
friendship, I could at times fancy that their, praise was that
of kindness rather than truth, though I rejoice to find that
I have found, where I feel myself that I have found, poetry
in homely life. Now I am writing to you I cannot help


sending a bit of criticism from the Cambridge paper
(supplement) of last week. The word outlandish for a form
of English not spoken out of the land, and without foreign
words, seems to me a rather odd one. I hope, it is true, to
make another edition of the first volume a little more

English in spelling, but Dr. H , lately of St. John's

College, Cambridge, once told me that he could understand
my book perfectly well, and so I was told a few weeks ago
by an American gentleman and lady who were travelling
in England and found me out as the writer of the Dorset

I have usually not taken notice of either the praise or
condemnation of reviews, and not of the praise because not
of the condemnation, but your paper was too mighty for
my indifference.

I have pieces for a third collection such as the second.

If country air would do good to Mrs. Patmore, my
daughters want me to say they should be glad to see her
here after the 22nd.

I am,

My dear Sir,

Yours very truly,
W. Barnes.

The follow^ing letter of condolence on Emily Pat-
more's death is addressed to Georgiana Patmore,
Coventry Patmore's sister-in-law. (See vol i.,
P- 132.)

Dorchester, 12 July, 1862.

My Dear Madam,

The news of Mr. Patmore's great loss has certainly
come to me much sooner than I had feared I should hear
it. Will you kindly give him my most earnest love and
sympathy as from a man who has been led by the same
way of trial as he is now called to pass.

I would beg you to tell him that while I can measure, as
no inexperienced soul can measure, his trial on the with-
drawal of God's greatest worldly gift, yet I have no fear
from my own experience, that, while he abides in faith his
Heavenly Father's work, he will be at all forsaken, or un-
consoled, or unrewarded. I was left with six children and


wondered greatly how I could ever bear my twofold charge
— father's and mother's — and now I wonder more than ever
at the complete wisdom and love of God's leading ; and
your brother must bear in mind his wife's blessedness, and
that the great love that sorrows here will be great joy where
there is no more death.

I own that I have lost a great hope that I should see
here in the body the wife of the man who could write " The
Angel in the House." I have often wondered whether your
brother had any children. If you could kindly let me know
in a week or so how your brother is, you may recollect to
tell me.

Would your brother come down here for a week ?

I am.

My dear madam,

Yours very truly,
W. Barnes.
Mrs. Georsfiana Patmore.

Dorchester, 17 July, 1862.

My Dear Mr. Patmore,

We shall not flit to Came (only a mile-and-a-half
from hence) before about the middle of August, and we
shall be very glad to see you if you can come down next
week and share our quiet life and homely entertainment,
for I have not been rich enough to live otherwise than as a
poor curate or schoolmaster. Though I do not keep a
carriage, we can take a few nice little walks which will do
you good, and I can show you a fine British earthwork.

I am,

Dear Mr. Patmore,
Yours very truly,

Coventry Patmore, Esq.

W. Barnes.

Caine Rectory,

8 Feby., 1879.

My Dear Mr. Patmore,

I have lately received from an unknown hand, but I
suppose from kind will, the welcome gift of a copy of your
" Unknown Eros." I have lately been driving so hardly


through some work of my own (not poetry) and for the
parish that I have not had a good time for the enjoyment
of your poetry, for which I want, as I want for that of
Petrarch, the still hour of peaceful leisure. Yesterday,
however, I read some pet pieces of my daughter's, among
them the mightily touching " Toys " and " Tired Memory."
I am happy to find the harp of " The Angel in the House "
still in tune, with the wonted skill to play it. I hope you
are well.

I wonder what like and where is that to my mind pretty
little girr your daughter, who was here with you ?

I am, dear Mr. Patmore,
Yours very truly,

W. Barnes.

Some letters of Mr. Procter's (Barry Cornvv^all)
to Mary Patmore have been already given. (Vol. i.,

pp. 221-222.)

The letter of July 7, 1868, shows that the writer
had been one of those who had failed to appreciate
the nine Odes (vol. i., p. 243), of which Patmore had
sent him a copy.

32, Weymouth Street,

Portland Place, W.

12 or 13th Oct., 1867.

My Dear Patmore,

My wife has shewn me your pleasant letter. To my
thinking, I have not seen so happy a one for a long time.
Men are so troubled by Cares — and business and other
vexations — which almost always give too grave a colour to
their writing.

Thanks for your invitation to Buxted — which I should
greatly like if I were younger ; but I am dwindling into
the figure of nought (o) — I am a double senex. My
movements depend on a donkey — or on a chairman, who is
half a donkey. By a strenuous effort I have been as far as
Hampstead for a month, but whilst there I was continually
dreaming of the labour of the return.

The daughter was Emily. (See vol. i., pp. 208 and 266.)


If I live till the 21st of next month I shall be 78 — that is
to say in my ygth year. I suppose I'm about as old as

Do you remember my dining with you when you became
21? At Highfield,^ was it not? It seems but the other
day ; yet I dare say you fancy that your curls were crisper
then than at present.

Now — altho' a little older — you live in a fine bracing air,
you have children about you, and that crown of all — the
" placens uxor " — to whom I send my love, which I hope
she will receive (at the kitchen door) altho' she sends no
message to me. I care less about the Madeira than the
Mary ; 86, however, is a good age — even for wine.

(If you can't make out my writing — which I confess is
scarcely legible — perhaps Mrs. Patmore will help you ; my
hand, rather than my head, fails me.)

I hear nothing — I see nothing — except the weathercock
which is faithless, and the sparrows on the housetop ; and
even they fly away.

My wife wishes to write a line or two to you, so I will end
my tediousness. I saw Browning yesterday, otherwise I
have not set eyes on a poet since you called in the summer.

Always your sincere,

B. W. Procter.

I find that the Muse has descended from her height lately,
and has touched (just touched) the foreheads of humble
people. There is a foolish boy at Hampstead — of the name
of Draper — who has been spoiling paper. His fame was on
its road towards London, but could not get further than
Haverstock Hill. There, as you will readily see, it must
remain, " For bad and all."

The following lines, by a draper's apprentice at Hamp-
stead, will shew you that flowers (and weeds) are cultivated
far from Buxted. I cannot say much for them. They are
manifestly a humble imitation of Horace's " Beatus ille qui
procul negotiis, etc." '

Highwood Hill. (See vol. i., p. 35.)
Epodes, Carmen II.


" Happy the man who, far from care,
Can saunter in his country air
(Just as the folks did in old time
Ere poaching was pronounced a crime)
And send a present to his friends
By th' aid the Brighton railway lends.
No bray of trumpets, nor the din
Of wild sea-waters vexeth him.
He lops his woods — he feeds his kine :
He grafts new buds upon his vine,
And sits down, tired, and hungry too,
When supper his evening senses woo.
Patmorris ! such is now thy lot :
Yet, are the muses quite forgot ?
Perhaps — and here I can but praise
Your disregard of former days —
You boast you have a brighter life,
A placens uxor (charming wife)
And plead excuses — Well, you' re right.
You see things in their proper light :
What couplet 's equal to a goose ?
What stanza to a lamb let loose
For frolic on a sunny day ?

But, as I talk, your present steams
Near me, and I have pleasant dreams —
I see life in its brightest phase,
And dream I'm lord of Buxted Place."

"John Henry Draper."

(Barry Cornwall.)

32, Weymouth Street,

Portland Place, W.

July 7, 1868.

My Dear Patmore,

I was very sorry to miss you to-day. I am out each
day, from about four till six — dragged out in a chair ; not,
thank God, as yet, on men's shoulders. I am sorry, because
your visits to London are so short and few.

I should have liked to hear of your wife — for whom I
profess a tender regard. If it be not offensive pray give my
Love to her. A message of this sort from a man old enough


to be her grandfather can surely cause nothing more than a
good-natured, contemptuous smile.

Touching your book, for the gift of which I thank you, I
scarcely know what to say. Imagine me very laical and
stupid, and in several ways grown impervious to the good
things which reach me. My memory has become so bad
that I am continually perplexed about names and things.

Some day when I see you, you will not refuse to explain
parts of the Ode which confused me when I read it — and I
read it twice, with the respect due to your intellect and
with the willingness which belongs to a friend.

But I fear I am growing too old for anything. The other
day (when Longfellow called) I had been crying all day for
no reason on earth. But I am not depressed now.

With {again) my Love to your Wife ; and I add a shake
of the hand for yourself.

I am,

Your very sincere,
B. W. Procter.

32, Weymouth Street,
Portland Place, W.

Monday, July 13, 1868.

My Dear Patmore,

Many thanks for the Trout — which were very deli-
cate. I felt some remorse — but is the sin of killing them
vested with you ? — I succumbed and yielded to the tempta-
tation. You are a sort of St. Peter, I suppose. This con-
jecture, at last, satisfied me.

But what can I say of my dear Mrs. Patmore's message ?
I shall hoard it up. I imagine that, next year, I shall
probably be with my ancestors^and if so, I shall brag of
it to them. I always liked the name of Mary, and now —

But my days for writing poor verses are past. Other-
wise —

I must in candour tell you that these blanks in my letter
are partly owing to my inability to write at all. I have
been — how long ? — in writing this letter — which I fear is
scarcely legible.

Give my humble respects (which in the Troubadour Lan-
guage means my Love) to Mrs. Patmore. Ask her to think


of me now and then as a young Scapegrace in London.
And with kind regards I am still,

Very sincerely yours,
B. W. Procter.

If I live till the 22 November I shall enter my 8oth year !
I mention this to quiet your apprehensions.

It is not clear what was the kindness for which
Mrs. Procter thanks Patmore in the following letter;
but the " gift of the hundred pounds " may be ex-
plained with some certainty. Patmore relates in
his life of Procter how he had generously offered
money to a young man in temporary difficulties. It
is perfectly clear that the young man was Patmore
himself, and the difficulties those caused by his first
wife's illness. The money, though offered as a gift,
was punctually repaid, as were all advances made by
friends during this time of strain. Patmore's opinion
of Mrs. Procter is given in letters of his to Mr. Dykes
Campbell. Mr. Proctor died on Oct. 9, 1874.

Nov. 30th, 1874,

32, Weymouth Street,

Portland Place, W.
My Dear Kind Friend,

I feel great difficulty in answering your Letter — be-
cause not holding the Poet's pen, I cannot express to you
how deeply I feel your delicate kindness — your summing
up the very small services I did you — the gift of the hundred
pounds, of which I knew nothing until to-day — all this, to
make me easy and happy to take from your willing hand.
I sold the books — my dear husband wished me to do so —
and in the small house, or lodging, I and Edith shall share
the books would have been sadly in the way. I have kept
all we cared for, amongst them one bound in Blue Velvet,
that you gave me.

Your letter is so charming that I long to publish it. We
are not rich, but we have enough. Should I want help I
shall come to you, and in doing so I shall, I know, gratify


you. I both cried and laughed at your Letter, when you
say " I dread I shall never hear from you again."

Yr. grateful old friend,

Anne B. Procter.

Sir Henry Taylor to Coventry Patmore.

The Roost,


17 Sept. 1868.
Dear Mr. Patmore,

I send you by Book post a little volume wh: you
may like to see though without the personal interest for
which it is chiefly to be valued.

I ought to have thanked you long ago for sending me the
" Odes " & I sh^. have thanked you had I not wished to say
more than I knew how to say. I have read them more than
once or twice & with a full sense of their peculiar significance
& grace, not always perhaps knowing how to construe &
develope unerringly the sublime sense, but never failing to
find the poetic power which awakens thought & sends it on
its way rejoicing.

Believe me, Yours Sincerely

H. Taylor.

Frederick Locker-Lampson to Coventry Patmore.

Travellers' Club,

for 91 Victoria Street, S.W.

30 March, 1874.
My Dear Mr. Patmore,

It is more than two years since I heard from you,
and I do not know whether you are in England, but I take
my chance. The last I heard of you was (& that was through
Mr. de Vere) that you were revising your poems for a new
Edition. I hope that this is going on, for, however good a
work may be, judicious pruning must add to its force.

I now write one line to say that I am going to present a
copy of your poem to a very dear friend, on her birthday,
and it is to be bound by Bedford, and I want you to be so
kind as to write hers and your name on the title, as you once
so very kindly did for me.

If you are able to oblige me in this matter, I will send for


the volume before it is bound, as the Post is rather unkindly
to such things. I hope you are well and that your Pen is
not altogether idle ; but as regards fame if you care for that,
you have already done enough to secure your niche in the
Temple of Fame.

Yours very sincerely,

F. Locker.

I hope you will understand that if what I ask is in any
way disagreeable to you you will frankly say so, and think
no more about it.

Newhaven Court,

17 July, 1889.
My Dear Patmore,

Your kind letter of the nth has followed me from
one place to another, till it reached me here yesterday.

I wish I could make out a visit to you, but I shall not be
in the South till November, when I hope we may meet. I
am much pleased with your suggestive and in other ways,
most interesting Essays. I profited by your card & saw
your daughter's beautiful drawings. What I had already
seen at Hastings had prepared me for them. I believe, as
you say, they surpass anything done by living hand. I
remember seeing some exquisite drawings by Derrick, but
which I do not compare to your daughter's, if I remember
aright they not being so minute. I hope we shall persuade
you and yours to come to Rowfant in the Autumn, or rather
early Winter.

Ever truly yours,
F. Locker. L.

Mrs. Locker-Lampson to Coventry Patmore.

Newhaven Court,

September nth,

Dear Mr. Patmore,

The gift of your last volume from the Publishers
arrived after my dear husband had been taken ill. I told

Principle in Art."


him it had arrived from you, and he said " dear fellow, give
him my love." I feel that you ought to have this message,
for I know you will value it. . . .

Believe me, dear Mr. Patmore,
Yours very sincerely,

Jane Locker-Lampson.

Austin Dobson to Coventry Patmore.


Ealing, W.,

Nov. 13, 1886.

My Dear Sir,

I do not know that I have often been more pleased
than at the receipt, through Messrs. Bell, of the latest
edition of your poems ; nor can I conceive of any gift
which, in my eyes, does me more honour. My fondness
for them is of long date ; and it has never declined. To
possess them with your autograph makes them doubly
valuable ; and I hope you will believe that they will be
carefully preserved and cherished by

Your faithful admirer,

Austin Dobson.

75, Eaton Rise,

Ealing, W.,

March 8, '90.

Dear Mr. Coventry Patmore,

I hope you will not think me neglectful of your
kind present. But it was not until the day before yester-
day that I could go through it, which I did to my great
delight, reading anew " The Toys," " The Departure,"
" Alexander and Lycon," and other old favourites. If I
had been by you, I should have petitioned, I think, for the
addition of " Olympus." But they who get so much so
good for a shilling may not complain.

With renewed thanks.

Yours faithfully,

Austin Dobson.




Manor Farm,

Merton, Surrey.
26 July, '86.

Dear Sir,

I am asking Mr. Greenwood to forward to you a
copy of verses ^ reprinted from " The National Review," the
subject of which is one of the old towns described in your
delightful papers in the " St. James's Gazette." A Sussex
man myself, I know all the ground you speak of with such
true taste and feeling, and with a delicacy of touch worthy
of Gilbert White. I much hope that you will republish the
papers in a separate form.^

It will give me great pleasure if you will accept the
verses I send herewith.

I remain, dear sir.
Yours faithfully,


Alfred Austin to Coventry Patmore.

Swinford Old Manor,
Ashford, Kent,

Jan. 7, '90.
Dear Mr. Coventry Patmore,

It was a true pleasure to receive the two volumes
which contain your best work. I will be frank enough to
say that in " The Unknown Eros " I have found myself and
my full enjoyment in some degree trammelled by the
irregularity of the verse, which, though I may be wrong,
seems to me not quite to satisfy the happy compromise
between expectation and surprise, which I suspect lies at
the root of the felicity of rhyme.

But " The Angel in the House " strikes me as better and
finer even than I thought it when I first read it many years

" About it blow
The authentic airs of Paradise."

^ "The Country Town. A Reverie," by W. J. Courthope.
" These papers were reprinted in 1887 as "Hastings, Lewes,
Rye and the Sussex Marshes. By C. P."


I know no modern poem where the attention is so often
arrested by the complete fusion of thought and expression
concerning matters that touch us all. It abounds in couplets
that register themselves in the memory by virtue of their
terse and original embodiment of a familiar truth — familiar
yet too often overlooked ; and there is hardly a page that
has not its verse appropriate to the emotions and experience
of all mankind. Thus you say what belongs to us all in
your own peculiar way, satisfying the canon ^ of Horace res-
pecting what is really " difficult " in literature. In an age
somewhat enamoured of spurious originality, I gladly note
how real and sincere is yours. Selecting the oldest of
forms you have made it, by your treatment, absolutely new.
Thanking you very warmly for your kind and valued
gift, I am Yours very sincerely,

Alfred Austin.

Swinford Old Manor,
Ashford, Kent,

Jan. 12, '90,
Dear Mr. Patmore,

I thank you for your kindness in sending me your
volume of Essays.^ I have read enough, even now, to per-
ceive that we are substantially in accord on all matters of
taste and judgment. Indeed, as we both enthrone reason
and judgment in their proper seat, we can but differ in
matters of detail. . . ,

Believe me.

Yours very sincerely,
Alfred Austin.

St. Clair Baddeley to Coventry Patmore.

5, Albert Hall Mansions,

Kensington Gore,

2. 3. 90.
Dear Mr. Patmore,

Your very valued gift needs a much fuller acknow-
ledgment than it will find on this piece of paper ; and, when

' " Difficile est proprie commumia dicereJ" (Arts Poetica.)

Online LibraryBasil ChampneysMemoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) → online text (page 28 of 36)