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Memoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) online

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"" " Principle in Art."


I have carefully enjoyed it once more, it shall have a warm
corner among the peers of Poesy. I very well foresee many
editions of the " Unknown Eros." It is as sure to grow in
estimation as the tide is to rise : for the growing force is in
it. The Imagination in it is richer, deeper, more abundant
throughout than in your earlier volumes, and the art —
masterly. You have given yourself full wings of Freedom
here, for your subject offered a scope so almost illimitable
that nothing is unrelated to it : it goes far beyond the
■" perturbed moon of Uranus " : and your wings seem just
as evenly sustained in the rarest atmosphere as in that
more dense and tearful one of our life. What a high
pleasure it is to read this work ! just as it is to grasp some
delicious music which fascinates, fills us, but never cloys us :
that gathers with its unseen hand all the good things in us,
and keeps them together in our hearts. I shall always
return to it.

Believe me.

Yours very gratefully,

St. Clair Baddeley.

5, Albert Hall Mansions,

Kensington Gore,

20 June, '93.

Dear Patmore,

Most hearty thanks for a volume^ of real Benefits.
Everywhere the thought is so crisp and sappy, the expres-
sion so refreshing, that one can scarcely say there is a choice
spot. A reviewer in one of the papers made a capital
failure in appreciating the Work. Indeed he said you were
out of touch with the time. On the very contrary, I find
you constantly feeling with absolutely professional fingers
the actual pulse of it. Your work is crammed full of
spontaneity, and will exert fertilising powers in many direc-
tions. I, for one, shall continually be returning to it, and I
am certain of my reward. Thank you very much !

Yours very sincerely,

St. Clair Baddeley.

" Religio Poets."


31, Montpelier Square, S.W.

June 4th, '95,

My Dear Patmore,

I have waited for quiet hours wherein I might grow
richer by discoveries in your volume : ' but now I find there
are no discoveries to be made, for it is all first-rate ore, if
read reflectively : and, if not read in that manner, it is still,
all, beautiful prose. Thank you very heartily for your
valued gift ! Your thoughts are as original and far-reach-
ing as Jean Paul's best ; your style, however, is crisp, like
that of Goethe, — a truly happy " fusion." I shall always
treasure it, and find comfort in its healing leaves. My dear
wife was delighted with some of the " perceptions " I read
aloud to her. She also adds her thanks to my own.

Alas ! my friend, we have lost Dykes Campbell. He
died on Saturday at Tonbridge Wells. I shall be at his
grave-side to-morrow, truly mourning the loss of a dear,
kind friend, who, not least among his many kindnesses,
introduced me to you and Mrs. Patmore. He is the fifth
old friend lost to me during these three months : pray
heaven I lose no more ! else I shall become as a Passer
Solitarius, for all my friends are much my seniors : they
are the freshest minds : in my eyes they are young, and all
that is lovable. They can none of them be replaced.
Heaven's best blessing on those who remain !

Yours ever,

St. Clair Baddeley.

Robert Bridges to Coventry Patmore.

Yattendon House,

Oct. 30, '94.
My Dear Patmore,

We got home safely yesterday afternoon both of us

much the better for our pleasant visit to you

After I got home, I took down " The Unknown Eros,"
and read about half of it again ; and I wondered again, since
you can write such poetry as there is in the best of these
Odes, how you could interest yourself in my humble per-

" Rod, Root and Flower."


formances. Certainly your great power makes your praise
of my work the best thing which I ever had or am likely
to have in that kind. It struck me when I was with you,
that you thought that I was indifferent to the poetry of
your " Unknown Eros." The only point on which I could be ;

is that it makes me rather sad I should never hope to

write any thing so beautiful as, say, the end of " Wind and
Wave," and when I read it last night it occured as familiarly

to me as a beauty of Shakespeare or Milton

. . . Thank you very much for your warm friendship,
which you have allowed me to see, and which I feel very
deeply. According to promise I tell Bell to send you the
last edition of my lyrics, in which you will find the new
ones, and among them a verse here and there which will
please you ; but you must really understand that I am loth
to trouble you with them, and I do not consider them for
their own sake worthy of your acceptance.

Believe me yours very sincerely,
R. Bridges.



RALSTON, the well-known Russian
scholar, was for some years Patmore's
colleague at the British Museum. The following
letter was written to him not long after the publica-
tion of the " Betrothal."

75, South Audley St.,

March 4th, 1855.

My Dear Mr. Ralston,

I have at last found time to read part of Mr. Pat-
more's poems, and with great pleasure.

I am no critic. The Httle I knew of such matters I have
forgotten long ago ; but my reasons for thinking very
highly of his poetry are : —

1. That he is not afraid to use pure, simple, monosyllabic
English, which is a relief to the mind and the eye, like a
green field, after the gaudy harlequin diction of modern

2. That there is a predominance of imagination over
fancy, I mean the grave rational creative power over the
freaks of the mere eye of sense.

3. That there is a predominance of the intelligence over
the imagination which gives a masculine tone.

4. And a very pure and noble sentiment over all, b)' which
he has redeemed and elevated a subject which I seldom see
treated without wishing that it had been left alone.

It is a Christian and chivalrous book and must purify the
thoughts of many.

You see I am but a dry critic and end in a sermon.
Always yours affectionately,
H. E. Manning.


Mr. Monteith is mentioned in vol. i., p. 285. Pat-
more had paid him a visit at Carstairs after leaving
Brantwood. This letter refers to the privately cir-
culated edition of the first nine Odes (see vol. i., pp.


22, Half Moon St.,

June 2ist, '68.

Dear Mr. Patmore,

You know I left home without having an oppor-
tunity of looking at the Odes, and forgot to take them with
me. Now I have succeeded in borrowing a copy, and
have just had a quiet read of them to my very great satis-

I will not trouble you with praises — but will only say —
for God's sake or your soul's sake, write. Do not leave any
of the reproach of poetic sterility unremoved which it lies
with you to remove from the children of the Church. You
have a call as distinct to myQd,x as if I heard it delivered to
your guardian angel for you.

You are very grimly bitter against sun, moon and stars.
And you sometimes seek a curious sting in the style in
preference to beauty : and you perhaps like the intricate

too much : and but what are fifty such perhapses

when the Divine gift is there vivifying such a breadth of
mental muscle? You are one who cannot fail to be true
and living, and intensely interesting to any but the quite

I trust to see many score of pages quickly follow this
little prelude. With the slightest diminution of the occa-
sional odd and obscure you may educate the Catholic mind
of England to things yet unimagined by it. Yoxx can write
on divine things — truly, deeply, and beautifully — how then
will you dare not to write ?

Pour out — not merely in the spirit of soliloquy, as if in-
different whether understood or not — but at the same time
not aiming to be easily taken up by the crowd. As some
Saint bade a Grandee of Spain do — throw yourself every
morning on the floor of your room and offer your gifts
to God, and then every day pour out. I would not be
always theological — only very often so — and I would make
some great Religious theme your piece de resistance, and
your life work I


You will not have patience to read this, but your wife
will, and she will interpret for me. I do hereby pray God
that you may not fall short of }'our vocation.

Ever yours,


Cardinal Newman to Coventry Patmore.

Nov. 1 6, 1884.
My Dear Mr. Patmore,

I hope you have not thought I neglected your pre-
sent of St. Bernard's work (so sacred from its association,
and so welcome to me, as coming from you) because I have
not thanked you for it.

I believe the simple reason is that what one is not obliged

to do right off at once is hustled aside by those duties that

cannot be delayed, and my fingers are so stiff just now that

I cannot write on one day as many letters as I would wish.

Hoping you will make allowance for me, I am,

Most truly yours,

John H. Card. Newman.

The Oratory,

Dec. 8, 1878.
My Dear Mr. Patmore.

Thank you very much for the present of your

Thank you also for pointing out to me your poem " The
Child's Purchase."

But it needed not that to make me feel the original and
beautiful colours which you can throw over themes sacred
and secular. Wishing you all the blessings of to-day's
Feast, I am, my dear Mr. Patmore,

Sincerely yours,

John \\. Newman.

The following letter from Father Angelo, who,
as a " contemplative," was in close sympathy with
Patmore's religious ideas, discusses the theological
aspect of " Rod, Root, and Plower."


Franciscan Monastery,


[1895 ?]

Dear Mr. Patmore,

I must thank you exceedingly for the copy of the
" Rod, Root, and Flower," which I received not long ago.
Such a work has been to me an opus desideratum for some
time. It gives in clear expression resulting from personal
experience what the Catholic Church, in the first place,
offers as so many verbal propositions or theses. The
meaning of these truths, unlike the meaning of the truths
of science, is not exhausted in their general significance.
Their meaning as it were grows to fulness and completion
in the individual soul, and the fruit of their attainment
should be concretely renewed in each individual life. You
have so to speak penetrated into the ultimate form, neither
old nor new, but permanent, of many Christian dogmas.
When this true perception is reached, faith can hardly after-
wards be lost, for the soul in that case finds itself, and finds
too its essential aptitude for the ways of God.

It has been my duty lately to write a "dissertation" on
the Incarnation, and I may therefore venture to say that
your " dicta " on this subject seem in perfect accord with
the mind of the Church on the Incarnation, though I have
not met many who, as you express it, have faith to believe
what they see. A great deal hinges on such Aurea Dicta
as LXXII. In my dissertation I had occasion to write
thus on the Incarnation : " Its object was the sanctification
of the facts of life — as first, the Motherhood of Mary was a
sacred Motherhood, the Sonship of her Son a sacred Son-
ship, and the friendship of the beloved disciple the truest pro-
duct of religion " . . . " The object of the Incarnation was
the atonement of life by the sanctification of the elements
of human life in their simplest form," etc. I dwelt at some
length on the real identity of the divine with the human
and sensible in the facts of the Incarnation — hence their
perfect intelligibility as a revelation ; and I concluded by
saying : — " The life of the Incarnation is never realized
without that perfect contentment in this present life which
the God-man found or desired to find in His earthly sur-
roundings. The ideal of Christianity is found in perceiving
the presence of God here below, and in the attainment of


beatitude and peace on this earth, which ought to be the
Kingdom of God and perfectly Hke the Kingdom of

If I understand you rightly, you infer that a Christian in
faith may apprehend the Deity on account of the Incar-
nation in the simplest forms of individual life and character,
which are not vulgarized by forsaking their divine simplicity
of growth. If the object of religion may thus be obtained
here below, a soul's spirituality may develop without the
artificial incumbrances and " Spiritual terrorism " which are
so often used by directors in their attempt to guide souls ;
though, as to preaching, I am not unmindful of the truth of
" Knowledge and Science," No. XXII. A director should
in truth enable each one to find their individuality, be faith-
ful to themselves, and nothing more. If a man concentrates
his aim on the distinctive simplicity of character in relation
to his ordinary and earthly surroundings, he need not fear
about the future ; for, after the Incarnation is revealed, God
is only absent through unrighteous self-limitation on our
part ; and if He truly informs a soul on this earth He does
so for evermore.

The book is full of sayings of the greatest use and import-
ance. But I cannot refer to more at present.

With my best and sincerest wishes,
I remain,

Yours most truly.

Father Angelo.



THE following letter from Mr. Garth Wilkin-
son refers to the poems of 1844. Mr.
Wilkinson was, like Patmore, a student of
Swedenborg, and it is believed that they corre-
sponded on the subject. No other letters on either
side are forthcoming.

Sussex Lodge,

24 Finchley Road,

St. John's Wood,
Oct. 31, 1852.
My Dear Sir,

I have been (for the first time) reading your Poems,
— with rare dehght. Nothing that I have read for long has
so surprised me. I fancy it is Shakespeare lyrical. The
place you occupy also is your own, & no whit Tennysonian,
or dating from any mortal god-father.

Your faithfully,

J. J. Garth Wilkinson.

Richard Holt Hutton to Emily Augusta and
Coventry Patmore.

2 Brick Court, Temple,

Tuesday night.

Dear Mrs. Patmore,

I ought sooner to have answered your kind note.
But I have been fagged and very late at night and I wanted
to see my way clear as to time.


May I accept your kind offer for Thursday (the day after
to-morrow) of a walk with Mr. Patmore ? I have just been
reading his first portion of the poem — a true poem indeed,
I think, and something more than a poem only, at least
something more than an expression of the imagination or
the fancy merely. Scorn the critics, and be proud of it, as
I would be indeed if I could have written it. There seems
to me to be in the poem what a man might be satisfied and
grateful to have lived to say, and to have lived so that he
could say it, which is perhaps more ; and there is thought,
fancy, and unity of subject throughout, — which I seldom
have seen in our modern poetry — the few great poets ex-

It is a real pleasure to have read it : and I am sure I shall
recur to it. I think the second part quite worthy of the
first, but the first the best.

Most books of poetry give one so much pain, with their
jarring affectations of phantasmal inspiration, that I seldom
read one without an effort.

Believe me,

My dear Mrs. Patmore,
Very sincerely yours,
Richard H. Hutton.

A letter by this post from a friend to whom I had recom-
mended Mr. Patmore's poem, after very severe and deserved
criticism of another gentleman, says to-day in a letter, " I
forgive you the troubles of . . . for the delight I have taken
in reading ' The Angel in the House ' and ' The Espousals.'
I wondered I had been so long without knowing it. I claim
the poem as my own by admiration and experience. Can
I say more ? "

Mrs. Patmore.

The following letter refers to Mr. Hutton's " Life
of Cardinal Newman," and to Patmore's " Odes."

The ♦' Spectator " Office,

I, Wellington Street, Strand,

London, W.C.
12 Oct., 1890.
My Dear Patmore,

You are very kind indeed to my little book and you
must not think that my not answering your letters was due


to any want of heartfelt friendship. I have been for the
three last years under a heavy cloud of trouble and find my-
self very unequal to everything but a poor attempt at
politics. It is due to my wife's serious illness, an illness
from which I fear it is hopeless to look for any recovery.

Your poetry in that last book of yours touched me greatly.
It has been one of the few books, except Newman's, that I
have been able to read, though I can from habit read my
politics and write my articles much as usual.

I am very much pleased that you think my account of
Newman not a failure. A good deal of hard work is sunk
in it, though it is with slight effect.
With heartfelt thanks,

Believe me,

My Dear Patmore,
Yours most truly,
Richard H. Hutton.

Patmore had made the acquaintance of Ralph
Waldo Emerson, when the latter vi^as in England in


October 5, 1858.

My Dear Sir,

I have once [and] again strained my slender claim to
your acquaintance, for the benefit of my friends, when they
were lovers of your genius, and now am emboldened by
my regards for the traveller to do the like again.

My friend Miss Elizabeth Hoar (who should have been
these many years my sister), desires to see you, as few have
read your poems better, and I could not easily send you a
more descerning and more cultivated person. Miss Hoar
travels in Europe for a year with her brother and her friend
Miss Pritchard, and, though they stay in London but a
short time, mean, of course, to see the Museum ; and I must
rely on your kindness to point out to them precisely those
things which you value most. Miss Hoar will give you at
least the satisfaction of a clear intelligence and a correct

I confide that you will find your acquaintance with my
friend self-rewarding. And I hope you will impart to her


some good news of yourself and your literary designs, which
may arrive at last at me.

With grateful regards,

R. W. Emerson.
Mr. Patmore.

For an account of Patmore's relations with Mrs.
Gore and her daughter, see vol. i., p. 42.

Linwood, Lyndhurst, New Forest.

Thursday [Dec], 30,


Dear Mr. Patmore,

I am very glad to have obtained your address, which
I have often vainly asked for, for it enables me to add, per
rail, some game to your New Year's dinner. I have resided
many years in the Country, in absolute seclusion ; the last
I heard of you was about eight years ago ; when, visiting the
Museum with a party of Mr. Panizzi's friends, I inquired
after you, and heard you thoroughly commended. But it
was holiday time, and he said you were gone to Ramsgate.
I also saw with pleasure your wife's portrait by Millais : and
when the " Angel in the House " first appeared, anonymously,
not only recommended it to all my friends, but wrote up to
a London publisher to ascertain the name of the Author,
which I heard, some time afterwards, with real satisfaction.

I am much annoyed by the reprinting of my stale novels.
But the copyrights belonged to Colburn, and at his death
were sold by his Executors. I have revised them from good-
will to the publisher.

My daughter and her husband are staying with me, and
she has just been confined with a third dead child, — a great
disappointment to them. She is beginning to distinguish
herself much in oil-painting. Perhaps you noticed a "Sybil"
from her brush last year in the Female Artists' Exhibition.
Her name (Lady Edward Thynne) was in the catalogue.
I hope some day to see your wife and children.

And am truly yours,
C. J. Gore.

The following letter from G. F. Venables refers
to "Faithful for Ever," published i860 :



Oct. 16, [i860?].

Dear Patmore,

Thank you for the revised volume which I shall
find on my return to town. Sooner or later I shall review
it in the S. R., but my literary articles only come with ex-
ceptional leisure. My own opinion is quite formed, but I
shall have some difficulty in making it intelligible to those
who have not read the poem. I think it very original. In
the " Angel in the House " I thought there was a trace of
" In Memoriam," which is eliminated here. The observa-
tion of character and motive is very subtle, and the expres-
sion of it singularly fanciful and ingenious. The metre is
also characteristic, though I should be glad to see you try-
ing a metre of more compass and resource. What is much
more important, I am glad to hear that your domestic
anxiety is relieved or mitigated. I am staying here for a
few days with Milnes, who admires the poem.

Yours truly,

G. S. Venables.

Mr. John Forster had been a friend of P. G. Pat-
more, to whom he had written favourably of Coventry
Patmore's earliest poems (see vol. i., p. 58). The
" last volume " was " Faithful for Ever."

16 Montagu Square, W.

iSth. April, 1 86 1.

My Dear Mr. Patmore,

Do not think me indifferent to your kindness in
sending me your last volume, because I have delayed my
acknowledgment of it.

Believe me, it gave me true pleasure to receive this book
from yourself, — for I have never lost the interest you taught
me to feel in you, or the hopes you associated with yourself
in my mind, now many years ago.

I cannot frankly say that I agree with you altogether in
the views you seem to have definitely adopted as to the
right sphere of poetry and its legitimate object and aim —
but most truly and sincerely can I say that I acknowledge


in your new work a mastery of language and other materials
of your Art which has my highest admiration.

The ease, unaffectedness, perfect naturahiess, and yet, with
all this, the subtleties and graces of your versification in
many parts of this poem — it would be difficult, in my judg-
ment, to praise too highly.

Again most truly I thank you, and I beg you to believe
me always, with best wishes,

My dear Mr, Patmore,

Most sincerely yours,
John Forster.
Coventry Patmore Esq,

Henry Sidgwick to Coventry Patmore.

Hill Side,

Chesterton Road,

Jan. 24/77,

Dear Mr. Patmore,

I have just received the " Florilegium Amantis " and
the " Unknown Eros." It is very kind of you to think of
sending me them. The volumes contain many pieces
which have given me much delight — and, I hope, some of
the wisdom that may come through the inlet of delight —
and it will be an additional pleasure to me to keep them as
the author's gift.

It is impossible to please every one in such a selection as
" Florilegium Amantis " : and therefore I feel it unreason-
able in me to complain of the omission of " Love in tears."
Still I am sorry not to have it ; I have always thought the

And Love in tears too noble is
For pity, save of Love in smiles,

unsurpassed in their simple felicity and sweetness. How-
ever, as I said, it is impossible to include every one's

Believe me.

Yours sincerely,

Henry Sidgwick.
II. c c


Sydney Colvin to Coventry Patmore.

Trin. Coll., Cambridge,

Nov. 27th. [1878?]

My Dear Patmore,

Many thanks for your kind proposal. I shall be
honoured in receiving the book; please send it here: the
alma is and is likely to remain my permanent head-
quarters. . . .

I have wanted to write to you or talk with you ever since
your last book. I don't mean about the poetry, a great
part of which I love, and all of which seems to me on the
classical level of literature. But to say what I should have
to say would be too long, if I began about that ; and what
I do want is that you should recast and develope into a
regular treatise your essay on English metres and the
structure of verse. It seems to me already much the most
luminous thing that has been written on that puzzling
subject ; but it wants to be worked out at much greater
length, and with examples, for the ordinary reader, or even
for readers who have given some thought to the subject, to
be able to follow the analysis properly. Besides, I think
the analysis itself wants to be carried further. The kind of
phenomena of verse which that curious person, Sylvester,
has observed, and classified in his monstrous nomenclature
(you know his " Laws of Verse ^ ") want to be rather observed

Online LibraryBasil ChampneysMemoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) → online text (page 29 of 36)