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Memoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) online

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sudden, and understand.

My most heartfelt sympathy with you and his children —
if that matters. Believe me, dear Mrs. Patmore,

Ever sincerely yours,

F. Greenwood.

Bertha's letter has this moment come in. On Monday
afternoon I hope to see you.

Mr. Doman, the Lymington poet, is mentioned
in vol. i., p. 383. Patmore had presented him with
the ** Florilegium Amantis," and this was the occasion
of the earlier tribute ; the later was written after
Patmore's death. Mr. Doman survived him little
more than a year.


As into some cathedral dim and pure
I enter with hush'd heart and lowly tread,
Where round me sleep the great and holy dead,
Amid memorials ever to endure, —
The rude rough world shut out and far away, —
With awe-filled love deep in my spirit's core,
I kneel at the high altar's steps and pray —


" Lord, I would dwell herein for evermore,

" And Thy great Name continually adore ! " —

So, thou great Singer, thus my soul would stay
In that sweet book of yours from day to day.
Wherein such pure and holy thoughts abide
That mine would dwell for ever at their side,
Nor from their tender teachings turn away.

I am not one of those who may not feel
The music and the beauty of your lays.
Though simple and unlettered, let my praise
My love and reverent gratitude reveal.
Much have you taught me, though I some things knew
Before, but could not speak : you gave them speech.
And life, and loveliness ; and all were true.
Your songs, from some high source beyond the reach
Of common minds, fall as the gentle dew
On drooping lilies, and sweet wisdom teach.

Fain would my heart be one with yours, and know
That through life's path with kindred thoughts I go,
Wiser and holier for your sake, and taught
To thank you and to love you as I ought.

Henry Doman.


In Memory of Mr. Coventry Patmore.

In the sweet light of love that cannot die.

He lives, the friend whom we have lost awhile.

Unseen for evermore by mortal eye,

Yet unforgotten, and for ever nigh.

We miss the face, the old familiar smile.

The gentle voice we lov'd, no longer by :

But love's clear gaze sees through death's mystery

Beyond the gloomy grave, the cloudy sky

Of time, its deserts and tempestuous sea.

It hears no more the mournful funeral bells.

Where in eternal blessedness he dwells ;

And ever in secret lands of memory

His spirit is with us, like some heavenly breath

From realms wherein there is no sin or death.

Poet of love, God's chosen son of song,


Whose harp was tuned in heaven for sinful men,
Though thou hast pass'd away from mortal ken,
Thy tender teachings still to us belong.
Thou, being dead, yet speakest, and shalt be
A voice amid the ages, in all days,
To lead pure souls in high and lofty ways,
With thy clear strain's perpetual melody.
Oh, voice of sweetness that shall never die,
Thou hast our love, our sorrow, and our tears, —
A love that deepens with the deepening years, —
A tear that hallows every passing day, —
A grief too deeply set to fade away.
Till heaven gives rest, and death's dark mystery clears.

Henry Doman.
Feb. 14th, 1897, Lymington.

The friendship between Patmore and Francis
Thompson has been mentioned in vol. i., p. 342.
The great similarity betvi^een the two poets both in
thought and style must be manifest to all readers.
Patmore's appreciation of Thompson is shown by
the article on him which he contributed to the
" Fortnightly Review " (January, 1894), while
Thompson's reverence for Patmore is sufficiently
recorded in the following tributes. The verses
which I have placed first were printed after the obit-
uary notice of Patmore (" Athenaeum," December 5,
1896). Mr. Thompson's own notes explain suffici-
ently the times and circumstances in which they
were severally written.

A Captain of Song.

{^On the portrait of Coventry Patmore by J. Sargent^ A.R.A.y

Look on him. This is he whose works ye know ;
Ye have adored, thanked, loved him — no, not him !

* As the meaning of this poem cannot be appreciated without
the knowledge that it was written to a living man, and bears refer-
ence to spiritual experience and not to death, the reader has now
to take note of its date — the summer of 1895. [Note by Francis


But that of him which proud portentous woe

To its own grim

Presentment was not potent to subdue,

Nor all the reek of Erebus to dim.

This, and not him, ye knew.

Look on him now. Love, worship, if ye can,

The very man.

Ye may not. He has trod the ways afar,

The fatal ways of parting and farewell.

Where all the paths of pained greatness are ;

Where round and always round

The abhorred words resound,

The words accursed of comfortable men —

" For ever " ; and infinite glooms intolerable

With spacious replication give again,

And hollow jar.

The words abhorred of comfortable men.

You the stern pities of the gods debar

To drink where he has drunk

The moonless mere of sighs,

And pace the places infamous to tell,

Where God wipes not the tears from any eyes.

Wherethrough the ways of dreadful greatness are :

He knows the perilous rout

That all those ways about

Sink into doom, and sinking still are sunk.

And if his sole and solemn term thereout

He has attained, to love ye shall not dare

One who has journeyed there :

Ye shall mark well

The mighty cruelties which arm and mar

That countenance of control.

With minatory warnings of a soul

That hath to its own selfhood been most fell.

And is not weak to spare :

And lo ! that hair

Is blanched with the travel-heats of hell.

If any be

That shall with rites of reverent piety

Approach this strong

Sad soul of Sovereign Song,

Nor fail and falter with the intimidate throng,

If such there be,


These, these are only they

Have trod the self-same way ;

The never-twice-revolving portals heard

Behind them clang infernal, and that word

Abhorred sighed of kind mortality.

As he —

Ah ! even as he !

Francis Thompson.

The following is an extract from the Preface of
"Sister-Songs, an Offering to two Sisters," by-
Francis Thompson, 1895:

One image in the Proem was an unconscious plagiarism
from the beautiful image in Mr. Patmore's "St. Valentine's

" O baby Spring
That flutter'st sudden 'neath the breast of Earth,
A month before the birth."

Finding I could not disengage it without injury to the
passage in which it is imbedded, I have preferred to leave
it, with this acknowledgment to a poet rich enough to lend
to the poor.

Francis Thompson.


In 1897 Francis Thompson inscribed his "New
Poems " to Patmore :

Dedication! to Coventry Patmore.

Lo, my book thinks to look Time's leaguer down,
Under the banner of your spread renown !
Or if these levies of impuissant rhyme
Fall to the overthrow of assaulting Time,
Yet this one page shall fend oblivious shame,
Armed with your crested and prevailing Name.

* This dedication was written while the dear friend and great
Poet to whom it was addressed yet lived. It is left as he saw it —
the last verses of mine that were ever to pass under his eyes.

F. T.


On hearing of Patmore's death, Francis Thomp-
son wrote to Mrs. Patmore as follows :

Creccas Cottage,



N. Wales,
Monday, Nov. 30, '96.

Dear Mrs. Patmore,

I am shocked and overcome to hear of your —
and my — bereavement. There has passed away the greatest
genius of the century, and from me a friend whose like I
shall not see again ; one so close to my own soul that the
distance of years between us was hardly felt, nor could the
distance of miles separate us. I had a letter from him but
last Monday, and was hoping that I might shortly see him
again. Now my hope is turned suddenly into mourning.

The irrevocableness of such a grief is mocked by many
words : these few words least wrong it. My friend is dead,
and I had but one such friend.

Yours, in all sympathy of sorrow,

Francis Thompson.




In "My Friends and Acquaintance" P. G. Patmore has
alluded to a law-suit which turned out unsatisfactorily to
both parties and left him, for a time, in straitened circum-
stances. The other party to the suit was Colburn, the pub-
lisher, and the story, so far as I have been able to recover it,
is as follows :

On May 28, 1831, Colburn engaged Patmore to do for
him certain literary work at a salary of £6 6s. a week.
This, however, was not the first connection between Colburn
and Patmore, but a reduction of a previous understanding
to a more business-like footing. It is evident that Patmore
was in Colburn's employ at least as early as 1824 (see
vol. i., p. 6).

On October 14, 1831, Colburn engaged Patmore to edit
the " Court Journal," and to give to it, with certain specified
exceptions, all his time, at a salary of ;^io a week.

On January 28, 1832, the following paragraph appeared
in the " Court Journal :"

" Rumours of a most painful nature, and, as we have reason to
fear, too well founded, are in circulation relative to the elopement
of a lady of high rank and distinguished beauty, the wife of a
Cabinet Minister, with a Captain in the army. We shall abstain
from saying more on this subject at present."

On February 4, 1832, the following note appeared :

" The rumour which was so confidently propagated at the latter
end of last week, relative to an alleged elopement in high life,
happily turns out to be wholly without foundation."

The same number of the " Court Journal " contains, in
another part, a compliment to the Duke of Richmond, for
his action as an officer in the Peninsular.

This rather comically forced attempt at conciliation came
too late, for elsewhere in the same number it is reported


that on " Feb. i the Attorney-General moved to file a
criminal information against several newspapers for the pub-
lication of a gross and unfounded libel on the Duchess of

Although the libellous paragraph mentioned no names, it
had been easy, by a process of exhaustion, to discover at
whom it had been pointed, and the Duke of Richmond had
taken prompt action against the " Court Journal " and other
papers which had copied the libel. It was, however, re-
marked at the time that it was the papers which repre-
sented the political party opposed to the Duke which were
made to suffer.

It is also clear from subsequent admissions that P. G.
Patmore had not merely edited but had written the libel.

The papers attacked were each fined ;^ioo, and Colburn
had to pay this sum for the " Court Journal." This he
attempted to recover from Patmore, who responded by suing
him for arrears of salary, claiming that the two agreements
given above were several and independent, and that salary
was payable on both ; whereas Colburn maintained that
the later agreement included and superseded the earlier.

I have not been able to follow out this litigation in all its
details. On June 24, 1833, both cases were heard before
Baron Vaughan and a special jury, and were referred to the
arbitration of " Mr. E. L. Bulwer," who was a friend of both
parties, and who, as is shown by his letters to P. G. Patmore,
had attempted to reconcile the litigants. The arbitra-
tion must, however, have broken down, as the case came
back into court and was heard before Lord Lyndhurst at
Westminster at a date which I cannot ascertain. At this
trial Patmore was awarded £1"]"] for balance of salary,
the court adopting his view of the contracts with Colburn ;
while Colburn recovered from Patmore the fine for the

Both parties appealed, and the appeal was heard in the
Court of Exchequer on May 29, 1834, before Baron Alder-
son, Lord Lyndhurst, and Baron Gurney. The Court held
that the contracts between Colburn and Patmore were not
independent, but that the later superseded the earlier ; also
that Colburn %vas guilty of the libel, and as a " tort-feazor "
was not entitled to throw the consequences of his crime on
another. Both the decisions of the lower court were accord-
ingly reversed.



Wednesday night.
I HAVE been endeavouring to answer your anxiously looked for
letter at length, but I find I have not power to command sufficient
calmness for the occasion. I therefore merely send you a hasty
note, which must serve till I can see you, which I hope will be
very soon. You have been unjust towards me, and I would fain
have convinced you of your injustice ; but a spark of your pride
withholds me making any display of my feelings at the present
moment. If that moment of agony had been impressed upon
your mind as it was upon mine, (I mean when I left you to
return to my dying husband) I should not, I think, have now to
tell you that you may command me in any way that can be of
service to you. Nothing will give me greater satisfaction than
that all the world should think of you as I do. The public
opinion has had no influence upon me ; and however blamed you
may have been by others, I could not for a moment harbour an
idea to your prejudice, and if I have appeared backward to serve
you, it was that I feared my own partiality blinded me in regard to
you. Mr. Reynolds must have ill understood me if he could not
observe that my own sorrows were almost forgotten in my anxiety
for your safety, and I fear, from the tone of reproach in which you
have written to me, he has failed to impress that idea upon you.
I wish you had written to me, as I expected firmly you would,
immediately after my poor John's death ; — you would have re-
lieved me from much anxiety — I would say, if I did not think your
calmness affected, more than you can have any conception of; but
I must not forget that which I ought to have most at heart. Do
all you can to clear yourself — but at the same time be careful of
our poor John's memory — for I am certain he never — never meant
to hurt you. He was too sincere a man to have received you as
he did, or allowed me to receive you, had he been conscious that
he was acting a double part. He could not have done it — did you
not know enough of him to feel convinced of this ?

In justice to myself I must say a few words more. I only
allowed myself to be led by others as long as I conceived that a
trial would be a mere matter of course, and that a few months'


imprisonment would be the penalty you would suffer — which I
was led to believe was necessary as a warning to others ; but when
I found you were in a more dangerous situation, I immediately
acted for myself — and yet you reproach me. I have thought since
then of but little else except what I could and would say for you
when you should require me to appear for you. God bless you
my poor friend

Believe me most anxiously yours

Caroline Scott.

23, Cockspur Street,

April 26th, 1 82 1.

My Dear Sir

I have not had an opportunity of being in town till to-day
— to make any further enquiries of Mr. Montague — the family did
not keep their promise with me, of paying me a visit on Tuesday
last as I expected, — but I went to breakfast with them this morning
in order if possible to have something to tell you that would
gratify you. Unfortunately Mr. Montague had gone out early
this morning, and I was disappointed of seeing him. Now do not
exclaim " true woman, always too late" the fact is as I tell you —
and you will I hope believe me.

I do not know whether I ought to write to you, since I have
nothing particular to tell you — for you only ask me to write if I
should hear any thing that I think you would be anxious to know.
I venture however, at all hazards, to scribble you a few lines, be-
cause I think common civility must induce you to reply to my
letter — and I feel very happy to hear from you, whether it may
give you pleasure or not. How selfish ! yet such is the case. I
would say I am gratified to hear that you are comfortable — nay
almost happy, — if I could say so in perfect sincerity— but I cannot
— I do not think you ought to be quite at ease at the present
moment when so many of us poor ladies are suffering pain for
you. Do not forget our pale faces, even for a moment — it would
be treason against us if you did. I have just come from seeing
your Mother and Miss Robinson — I found them both at home
to-day — the former looking better than when I saw her before, —
the latter looking delicate, but very sweetly. She is indeed a
charming girl ; — is it possible that you do not love her ? I cannot
believe it possible that two persons like yourselves, should live so
much together and be insensible to each other — it is quite against
my creed — but I must live and learn. They both complain loudly
that you have not written to them since your departure : — Miss
Robinson has sent you three letters — and to none have you replied.
Is not this unkind ? If you were to behave so unpolitely to me,


much as I regard you, I should lose my patience. I tell you this
by way of notice. Your young friend left Ludgate Hill with me
to-day to go to the country, I think she said Battersea ; she is to
be in town again next week, and we shall then meet again, to talk
about you, and to know each other better. From what took place
between us to-day, I am led to believe that I have formed a very
correct opinion of you — I think her ideas and mine will coincide
exactly. I told your Mother I was going to write to you this after-
noon — and asked her if I should scold you for not having sent to
her. " Oh ! no," was her reply, " tell him I am pleased to hear
that he is happy." How far above every other love is the affec-
tion of a mother for her children. I have not time now to reply
properly to your letter, for I wrote in great haste and with the
room full of people, but when I write again I will endeavour to set
you right with regard to the opinion you entertain of my poor
husband's character. I do not think distrust was in his nature ;
on the contrary he was in my opinion too confiding — where he
loved : he distrusted himself, and his talents, I grant : the feeling
most prevalent in his mind against others was disgust, but not dis-
trust. He used often say of myself that with all my faults I never
disgusted him ; that he never saw any woman but myself who
would have managed to do this. This was his common way of
expressing himself — and I often saw that he took disgusts at
persons — but I never knew him to be suspicious. Can you not
remember how little he looked like a suspicious man ? But, I
fear it is a hopeless task to endeavour to do away the impression
that late events have stamped on your mind — I own you have
reason to doubt him — but I am certain that he never doubted you.
Oh ! that I had foreseen what was to happen : he should not have
left such a stain upon his character. Poor fellow he was I am
sure quite unconscious of what he had said : but I have repeated
this over and over again to you — and yet you will not believe me,
I know. Do not however cease from expatiating upon the subject
to me whenever it may be necessary to you — I know how requisite
it is to be able to ease our hearts of oppressive feelings by com-
municating with those who understand us and regard us — I would
wish to be one of those friends towards you if you would like me
to be so. Write to me as you feel inclined. I shall not be hurt
if I cannot convince you that with regard to poor John you are in
error. I shall be sure that you will not form an opinion without
consideration, and that what you say will have truth for its founda-
tion. My husband taught me to think thus of you. I do not
know whether to be glad or sorry that the idea of a statement is to
be abandoned. I am unable to judge ; — like yourself all I can do
is to wait with patience for the moment of trial.

When you have written to your good Mother and Miss Robinson


let me hear from you — let it be soon, for I am a most impatient
person — and always fancy when people do not answer my letters
quickly, that I have offended them — or written like a fool.
Believe me ever My dear Sir

Your affectionate friend

Caroline Scott.

Saturday. Kew Lane, Mortlake,

April 28th, 1821.

What am I to say to you, Mr. Patmore, in reply to your last
letter? I believe I must begin by asking you a few questions.
Did you not love my husband ? Did you not do all in your power
to prevent him, on a previous occasion, from acting with the
rashness natural to his character ? Did you leave anything undone
in the late unhappy meeting which you ought to have done ? If
you could have saved his life, would you not, almost at the expense
of your own, have done so ? I only ask these questions because
I am sure of the answer they will receive from you : I will suppose
that I have received them, and proceed accordingly. With the
firm conviction on my mind of your devotion to poor John — and of
the sorrow his death must occasion you — particularly when you re-
flect that had Mr. Trail acted as he ought to have acted it would
most probably have saved the life of your friend : with these feel-
ings deeply fixed in my heart — and looking upon you as the next
sufferer to myself in this cruel affair — is it to be a matter of wonder
that I act with the common feelings of humanity towards you?
There is no generosity in my kindness : if I thought you to blame
— and acted as I do — my conduct might be construed into some-
thing like nobleness ; but as it is, in writing to you, or reading
what you write to me, I am only alleviating my own griefs by shar-
ing them with one who I think feels deeply for mine, and his
own loss and disappointed prospects. To how little purpose have
I talked to you, if you are still to be convinced of the cause of my
conduct, if you continue to persist that I make any sacrifice of
myself to alleviate your sufferings. But if I did even, would it
not be right that I should do so, when I consider that you are
suffering, when you might have been happy? I cannot under-
stand you — I have been almost led to fancy, by what you have
written, that you think I ought not to write to you — that you
would think more highly of me if I refused to communicate with
you — if I refused to receive consolation for my sorrows — if I
gave myself up blindly to misery — and shut every kindly ray from
my sight — if I allowed myself to dwell upon nothing else but the
dreary, desolate prospect that is before me! Can this be the


case ? If it is, you are bound in truth to tell me so — and I de-
mand it of you, since you have commenced that system with me.
I shall consider any thing you say as well meant — and endeavour
not to be angry at it. The accusation you bring against me of
changeableness brought the blood into my cheeks, because I think
it unmerited, for I cannot charge myself with otie act of that
nature towards yourself ; in my own opinion I have never varied.
If you intend that your accusation should refer to my conduct in
regard to you, during the time that I was prevented from seeing
your friends — I should have thought that the explanations I had
given you must very satisfactorily have done away with that im-
pression ; but if it relates to the statement which I concurred with
you in thinking you ought to make, when you were here — and
then advised you not to make, by letter, did I tell you that wv
opinion was changed in regard to it ? I gave you the opinions of
others only, which I thought of more weight than my own, and
entreated you rather to follow their advice than mine. This may
be weakness — but can it be called variableness ? I yield to you
however since I perceive you will not be convinced — for I have
found out that you are obstinate like all other men, and when you
have once said a thing you will persist in it, for the sake of appearing
consistent, whether you are right or wrong. There was nothing what-
ever in your first letter, from your present abode, to me, that could
displease me. I feel sorry that you should think you have cause
not to cherish my poor husband's memory as you would have
done — had Dr. Darling's evidence never been brought forth. I feel
all the pain that statement must cause you — all the doubtings and
regrets you must feel for having brought trouble upon yourself for

Online LibraryBasil ChampneysMemoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) → online text (page 31 of 36)