The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore

By Derek Patmore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
Tired Memory

HE was alone. The inevitable had happened, and to add sorrow to sorrow he was left with six motherless children.

As he writes in a later ode:

My heart was dead,
Dead of devotion and tired memory.

Vainly he attempted to recapture her lost presence. He reread her letters, he studied her portrait, and kept beside him small intimate reminders of her--a pair of gloves, her favourite book ( Jeremy Taylor Holy Living and Holy Dying) which he read, trying to find comfort. But she was dead. Like Eurydice, she had gone on a long journey far beyond recall.

He withdrew from the world of letters in which he had moved with his adored Emily, and courageously determined to devote himself to the upbringing of his children. He was not really suited by temperament for the task. He had no patience with all the little irritating and trifling failings of children, but he did all he could to adapt himself to the new circumstances.

In a remarkable letter to William Barnes, the Dorsetshire poet, who had suffered a like bereavement, he wrote on July 16th, just after his own wife's death:

Your letter to my sister-in-law (my wife's sister and brother's wife) was a real happiness to me. The number of my children is the same as yours, and it is much to find that you are able to speak from a matured experience of the result of a like loss so consolingly. I can already perceive and fully feel the love of God in this inexpressible loss. It was the thing my life required. It will be easy to draw near to Christ now. She is with Him, and it will be not a double but a four-fold power of tenderness and watchfulness, which will henceforward be in me, to supply their mother's

-107-

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The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter One - the Return of a Victorian 1
  • Chapter Two - the Beginning 7
  • Chapter Three - Peter George Patmore and William Hazlitt 18
  • Chapter Four - the Duel 28
  • Chapter Five - Boyhood of Coventry Patmore 32
  • Chapter Six - First Poems 42
  • Chapter Seven - Disaster 51
  • Chapter Eight the Married Lover 58
  • Chapter Nine the Pre-Raphaelites 67
  • Chapter Ten the Angel in the House 77
  • Chapter Eleven Tennyson--The Friend 89
  • Chapter Twelve Departure 100
  • Chapter Thirteen Tired Memory 107
  • Chapter Fourteen Journey to Rome 121
  • Chapter Fifteen Second Marriage 132
  • Chapter Sixteen the Squire 140
  • Chapter Seventeen the Unknown Eros 154
  • Chapter Eighteen the Bride of Heaven 164
  • Chapter Nineteen Third Marriage 177
  • Chapter Twenty the Meeting of Two Poets 188
  • Chapter Twenty-One Lymington 203
  • Chapter Twenty-Two Alice Meynell 217
  • Chapter Twenty-Three London Life 226
  • Chapter Twenty-Four the End of the Journey 237
  • Bibliography 243
  • Index 245
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