The Pre-Eminent Victorian: A Study of Tennyson

By Joanna Richardson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIFTEEN
THE QUEEN'S POET

THE new year opened with Jowett at Farringford; and 'Prof. J. strikes me as beautiful,' confided Mrs Bradley in her diary. 'I can call him by no other name.' She sat silently in the Laureate's drawing-room, observing the still centre of such controversy; and 'how strange it is,' she reflected,

that such a fierce feeling should exist in the world against one so good and gentle and absolutely free from bitterness himself ... In this age of unrest, when the foundations of truth are being searched, everyone insisting on finding a reason for his faith -- some coming out of the fire purified and consoled ten times, some going altogether to the wall, Prof. Jowett's view of the atonement and inspiration may on the one hand be wholesome as suggesting thought on the subject on the other have a bad influence at Oxford [as] a peg for utterly irreligious atheistical opinions. I am told that there is a set at Oxford who use Mr Jowett's name for a cloak in this way and that much harm comes of it.

It was largely on Granville Bradley's advice that Graham Dakyns, said to be the most popular young man in Cambridge, now joined the household as tutor to Hallam and Lionel; and while Granville advised, his wife continued her chronicle. On January 20th she rushed home from Farringford to report:

Much enjoyment in the society of Mr and Mrs Tennyson -- Mr Benson quoted those lines out of King Cophetua apropos of her. 'So sweet a face, such angel grace' &c. Most true of her. The more intimately I know her, the more I love and admire her, the more I incline to making her my ideal of all feminine loveliness of mind and manners, as well as of the highest standard of intellect and goodness ... The Poet is increasingly delightful and edifying, his talk has wondrous charms -- I long to catch some of the gems out of it, and

-126-

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