THE early months of 1883 passed quietly at Farringford, though Tennyson made a new friend in Mary Boyle, the novelist, who came to stay at a near-by cottage, The Briary, in the spring. Soon afterwards, he went to stay at the deanery at Westminster, where Granville Bradley had succeeded Stanley as dean. Archdeacon Farrar asked him to write an epitaph for Caxton for the window in St Margaret's, which the printers of London had set there to his memory; and Gladstone called, and they talked like friends, though Tennyson bitterly opposed his Irish policy, and Gladstone, reported Hallam, 'told us that he felt irritated, having been badgered to death by Irish obstruction'. Tennyson went to Much Ado About Nothing, at the Lyceum, where he thought Irving diligent, though less inspired than he had been as Richard III; he again discussed Becket with him, and Irving began yet again to consider it for the stage. Next morning, Tennyson and Hallam wandered for a long while about Westminster Abbey, and climbed up to the chantry as the choir was singing. 'It is beautiful,' said the Laureate, suddenly, 'but what empty and awful mockery if there were no God!'
In March he was moved by the Queen's distress at the death of her personal servant, John Brown. He wrote her a letter of condolence, and she asked him about an inscription for the memorial that she wanted to raise to Brown at Balmoral; to Tennyson's fury, news of this somehow leaked into the Press, and The Weekly Despatch organized a competition for parodies of the expected poem. Soon afterwards the Queen was seriously injured by a fall. On August 2nd a message came in her usual blunt, touching style: 'The Queen is very anxious for Mr Tennyson to come to Osborne for the day from Aldworth if this will not be too much for him. The Queen has been very much pleased with Mr Tennyson's letters to her after her accident and the loss of her old servant and she has been reading In Memoriam again, which