The Pre-Eminent Victorian: A Study of Tennyson

By Joanna Richardson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
THE CALM DOMESTIC WORLD

SOON after his appointment to the Laureateship, Tennyson called on Thackeray, 'much excited,' recorded the novelist, 'about his court dress and sword (he says his legs are very good but we know what the Psalms say on that subject) and as much pleased and innocent about it as a girl'. On March 6th, 1851, wearing the court dress in which Wordsworth had been presented, five years earlier, Tennyson went to Buckingham Palace for an audience with his sovereign. Five days later, after a brief attempt to live in deep seclusion in Sussex, after visits to Drummond Rawnsley at Shiplake and to Edmund Lushington near Maidstone, he and Emily finally settled at Chapel House, Twickenham.

It was in this early-Georgian house, overlooking Marble Hill (where Mrs Fitzherbert had lived in lonely nobility), that they hung the drawings which Edward Lear had sent as a wedding- present: 'those beautiful drawings,' wrote Emily, 'which give one, as Alfred said ... something of the glory of nature herself looking upon them.' It was here, at Chapel House, that the Carlyles and the Patmores and the eager young artist, John Millais, came to call; and here, on June 16th, Mrs Brookfield, the ex-Apostle's wife (and the cousin of Arthur Hallam) arrived,

with Uncle H[allam] and Julia, found Alfred and his wife weeding in the garden, and very cordial in begging us all three to stop and sleep with them, they also gave us a great tin case of Pine Apple sugar-candy, very good and unwholesome, which a next door neighbour had given them, and which disagreed with them so they pressed it upon Julia, who liked it, and with frankness ate of it; while Uncle H. refused with grand air, and in the carriage coming home gobbled up as much as any of us, confessing that he thought 'twould be childish to eat it before the Tennysons

.

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