The Pre-Eminent Victorian: A Study of Tennyson

By Joanna Richardson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINETEEN
THE AUGUST PARENT

THE irrepressible Jowett spent Christmas, as usual, at Farringford. After ten years of university warfare, his salary as Regius Professor of Greek had at last been raised from forty to five hundred pounds a year; his lectures on The Republic had stimulated an intense interest in Plato, and he was busy editing and translating the Dialogues. Everybody at Freshwater, observed Anne Thackeray, 'is either a genius, or a poet, or a painter or peculiar in some way ... Mrs Cameron sits up till two o'clock in the morning over her soaking photographs, Jowett's lamp also burns from a casement'; as for the Poet Laureate, he was designing terracotta mouldings for his model labourer's cottage, and, on his roof-top vantage-point, he stood alone at night, watching the stars.

January brought John Fowler, designer of the Forth Bridge, George Grove, the musical historian, and Montagu Butler, headmaster of Harrow; and Richard Owen came again, on holiday from the natural history departments of the British Museum, for 'we cannot afford to lose your brains,' Tennyson had told him, 'not at least till all our lizards are dug out, and this stretch of red cliff which I see from my attic windows no longer needs such an interpreter.'

Early in February he and Emily went to London for six weeks, and Emily revelled in meeting Browning ('very sweet and dear,' he thought her) and in the fire of Gladstone's conversation at Mrs Gladstone's five o'clock tea. Old and new friends buzzed about them: Brookfield (soon to be a canon of St Paul's), Spedding, still immersed in Baconian studies, Monckton Milnes (now Lord Houghton), Woolner, Froude, the inevitable Palgrave, and Jane Carlyle (who, a few weeks later, was to die of shock when her dog was injured). 'I drive myself with Mrs Carlyle,' recorded Emily. 'Little did I think that I saw her then for the last time. Her little dog was with her -- the fatal little dog. Lionel fondled

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