The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore

By Derek Patmore | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR The End of the Journey

THE evenings at Lymington were sad and remote, when the sinking sun covered the mud banks of the estuary with molten splendour and the sea turned a turquoise blue in the changing light.

It was at this hour that he loved to walk after dinner through the country-side near his house. The brooding silence of nightfall suited his moods. Accompanied by his son Piffie, he would tramp along the lanes wrapped in silence.

In 1894, he had had a series of illnesses that undermined his strength. He was unable to walk far alone, and he suffered from weakness and vertigo.

Francis Patmore tells us that during these walks his father would grasp him by the neck and lean on him for support:

I was thus a human walking-stick, and though I often reached home almost broken by fatigue, for he was heavy to support, it pleases me to know that I never let him suspect the often acute suffering he quite unwittingly caused. During these walks he would often exclaim aloud: 'My God, how cold, how cold!' One hot July night, as I was sweating under his weight, I ventured to protest that he could not possibly be cold, especially as he always wore at night a heavy ulster. He said, 'Oh, it is a spiritual cold I feel.' And in this internal, spiritual life, his last years were far from happy, and his soul longed, I think, for death and to see his God face to face.

By 1896, it was obvious that he could not live much longer.

In the January of this year he wrote: One cannot live long without delight. But I have done the best I could with such faculty as I had. I have always given my heart to that which is highest and I can wait to die, as Clough said.'


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