Edmund Gosse, a mandarin of established English life and librarian to the House of Lords, used strange phrases in writing of Coventry Patmore, whom he described as being "like a king in exile," and again "like the Phoenix of fable, the solitary specimen of an unrelated species." More than once Gosse referred to him as "this extraordinary man." Frank Harris, an extreme contrast to Gosse's respectable and established figure, was no less struck by Patmore's unique distinction. For him Patmore "represented all that was best in English life," though he was "a mass of contradictions because at odds with his time." Having visited his home, Harris found him "lovable and beloved by his own even to reverence."
That Patmore had such effects on men as different as Gosse and Harris is one illustration of the strength and independence in his character, striking even to those out of sympathy with his ideas. Yet he can hardly appear what is called a sympathetic character to those who set no value on his ideas or to those who find them repugnant, for these ideas were too closely interwoven in the fabric of his life and in the stuff of his being. Even his weaknesses and his failures can only be judged in relation to them, for they produced the tensions between his passions and his perceptions of the other world.
It is to his advantage then that his were universal ideas,