'THE VERY JOY OF MY HEART'
IN June 1890, when Watts had left Farringford, Emily reported that Alfred was going to London to see his doctor, Sir Andrew Clark, and an aurist. 'Mr Knowles wanted him to go tomorrow and meet Princess Mary [of Teck] and her husband & daughter,' she told Mrs Weld on June 30th. 'But much as he likes the Princess he does not feel equal to going there as there is sure to be a host of people to meet her and now he shrinks from a multitude. Nurse will go to the Nurses' Home and attend to him there.' 'You will be glad to hear that Sir Andrew, the Aurist and the Oculist all pronounced favourably on him,' she reported on July 7th. 'I do not myself believe that he is so well as is said tho' wonderful considering what he has gone thro'. The Knowles were most kind and hospitable. The Gladstones and others dined there one night, Mr Gladstone being anxious to see my Ally who however did not dine downstairs but Mr Gladstone went up and brought him down after dinner and was very delightful.'
After the Laureate's public outburst in The Times, after his repeated attacks on Gladstone's policy, there was some need for reconciliation; but Gladstone had 'real respect and admiration for Tennyson, both as poet and man'; and Tennyson's detestation of Gladstone's politics could not finally break the friendship of fifty years with the vigorous, sincere and enthusiastic friend of Arthur Hallam. That night, at Knowles's suggestion, the Prime Minister had gone upstairs after dinner to persuade the Laureate to come down. Gladstone's quickness of understanding was magical. Ten minutes later, the two men entered the room arm in arm, and 'sat down side by side on the sofa, talking eagerly about the Greek gods and other kindred subjects'. At the end of the evening Tennyson apologized to Knowles for his harsh comments on the Prime Minister.
Next morning, at breakfast, he was uncommonly taciturn, even for him. At last, putting down his knife and fork with a clatter,