'I TREMBLE in mind when I think of the fortune which I enjoy . . . The most noble and lovely of women for my wife: three of the prettiest children ever seen: health made delightful by preceding years of languor, and, hard at hand, worldly honour and prosperity'--so writes Coventry Patmore to his wife in 1855.
The young poet was now father of three children--two sons, Milnes, born in 1848, and Tennyson born in 1850, and one daughter, Emily Honoria, born in 1853. There is little official record of these happy days of his married life.
We catch glimpses of the young couple at a party given by Bryan Waller Procter, where ' Alfred Tennyson scarcely spoke to anyone but her ( Emily Patmore), to the apparent envy and surprise of certain great ladies, who evidently thought so splendid a beauty with so milk-maid-like an absence of pretension was contrary to the usages'.
We hear of the young couple moving restlessly from one house to another. First they are at Highgate, then at Kentish Town. Later they are living at Elm Cottage, Hampstead, and yet again they are in rooms at 14, Percy Street, near Bedford Square. No. 3 Mount Vernon, a charming early Victorian cottage, still in existence, is yet another address given in some of Emily Patmore's letters.
Serenely calm, Emily moved her ever-growing family from one home to another, and her loving husband proudly records the 'gem-like neatness and order of her house'.
He was still working every day at the British Museum Library, but he was also hard at work on a long poem, Tamerton Church Tower, which he was writing as a preliminary experiment and exercise prior to undertaking the more ambitious poem which was later to appear as The Angel in the House.
The 'three prettiest children in the world' were indeed very