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1860

VERSE-MEMORANDA

(Fowey.) A cow drinking from a trough on the hill-side. The netted beams of light played on the wrinkles of her throat.

(Cornwall.)

The wildflower, called lady's finger, of a golden yellow when open'd, is, unopen'd, of a rich orange red, frequently at least in Cornwall when I observed it.

[blocks in formation]

(I. of Wight.)

As those that lie on happy shores and see
Thro' the near blossom slip the distant sail.
(Park House.)
Before the leaf,

When all the trees stand in a mist of green.

After his tour in Ireland he had written on

the same page:

(Valencia.)

Claps of thunder on the cliffs

Amid the solid roar.

(Bray Head.)

O friend, the great deeps of Eternity

Roar only round the wasting cliffs of Time.

(The river Shannon, on the rapids.)

Ledges of battling water.

CHAPTER XII

FARRINGFORD FRIENDS

THE PYRENEES

DEATH OF THE PRINCE CONSORT

1860-1862

SOME of the journals of this period have been mislaid, and Mrs. Bradley has allowed me to make use of the Reminiscences written by her during the visits which she and the present Dean of Westminster paid to us at Farringford. They begin with the first impression of my father in 1855:

Here is Farringford, Tennyson's home, with its "careless ordered garden close to the ridge of a noble down" buried in trees. He invited Granville to dine with him to meet "Lear the artist, not the king," at Farringford two or three times, and Granville has had walks and talks with him and brings away memories full of pleasure and interest. To have come near the man and found in him all one could have desired in a great poet! I must write down my first sight of him. I was on the top of the stack in the yard having a birthday feast, very gay under a blue tent with decorations

1860

REMINISCENCES

of flowers, etc. A carriage drove up to the little gate of the yard, I could not see who it was but guessed it was he. He came to the stack and looked up. I saw a tall large figure, cloak and large black wide-awake. He had no beard or moustache, I recollect being impressed with the beauty and power of his mouth and chin.

His face is full of power and thought, a deep furrow runs from nose to chin on either side, and gives a peculiar expression to the face, a lofty forehead adds to this. I remember the splendour of his eyes. He asked me who I was and told me to "throw the little maid" into his arms, promising to catch her. He asked Edith how old she was, she said "thwee to-day." He said, "Then you and I have the same birthday, August 6th." He did not say much, but walked into the little parlour. Granville came in and they talked a little. Mr. Tennyson took up the books on the table and remarked to himself about them.

He and Granville have been on an expedition to Brooke Bay, geologising, botanising, poetising, talking of everything great and small, of life inward and outward, at home and abroad, of religious and social difficulties; they talked from 12 noon to 10 p.m. almost incessantly this day, Mr. Tennyson walking back with him to the Warren Farm still talking; Granville says that beneath all the slight allusions to various subjects in his poems lies a mine of knowledge. "He speaks of poetry as a great master only can do."

Mr. Tennyson has read "Maud " to us. He is a little vexed at the reception of "Maud." He said: "You must always stand up for 'Maud' when you hear my pet bantling abused. Perhaps that is why I am sensitive about her. You know mothers always make the most of a child that is abused." He commented on the poem as he read, pointed out certain

beauties of metre and meaning which he admired himself. He excuses all that people pronounce sardonic in his poems, by saying, he does not cry out against the age as hopelessly bad, but tries to point out where it is bad in order that each individual may do his best to redeem it; as the evils he denounces are individual, only to be cured by each man looking to his own heart. He denounced evil in all its shapes, especially those considered venial by the world and society.

Speaking of Alexander Smith: "He has plenty of promise, but he must learn a different creed to that he preaches in those lines beginning Fame, fame, thou art next to God.' Next to God-next to the Devil say I. Fame might be worth having if it helped us to do good to a single mortal, but what is it? only the pleasure of hearing oneself talked of up and down the street."

[Death's Jest-Book by Thomas Lovell Beddoes he also praised.] He tells stories very well, ghost and other stories, and has plenty of humour. Amongst others he told us several stories of queer letters he has had from all sorts of people, companies, associations, etc. One young lady wrote imploring him to write some poetry for her to produce at a picnic when every one was to recite an original poem! He said the deceit of passing off his poem as her own disgusted him, on the other hand he thought it plucky to tell him what she meant to do, and he would have written it for her, but unfortunately she signed her note "Kate" and sent no address.

Those evenings when the poet, sitting in his old oak armchair after dinner in the drawing-room, talked of what was in his heart, or read some poem aloud, with the landscape lying before us like a beautiful picture framed in the dark-arched bow-window, are never to be forgotten. His moods are so variable, his conversation

1860

COVENTRY PATMORE

so earnest, his knowledge of all things he writes about is so wide and minute. It is a rare treat to be in his domestic circle, where he talks freely and brightly without shyness or a certain morbidity which oppresses him occasionally in society. Crabbe, Gray and Keats were the chief poets he read to us.

The reference in the following letter from my father is to an article on " English Metrical Critics" contributed by Mr. Patmore to the North British Review for 1857 (vol. xxvii. pp. 127-161).

This is the passage referred to:

The six-syllable "iambic " is the most solemn of all our English measures. It is scarcely fit for anything but a dirge; the reason being, that the final pause in this measure is greater, when compared with the length of the line, than in any other verse. Here is an example, which we select on account of the peculiar illustration of its nature as a "dimeter brachy-catalectic," which is supplied by the filling up of the measure in the seventh line:

How strange it is to wake

And watch, while others sleep,
Till sight and hearing ache
For objects that may keep

The awful inner sense

Unroused, lest it should mark

The life that haunts the emptiness

And horror of the dark.

We have only to fill up the measure in every line as well as the seventh, in order to change this verse from

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