The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore

By Derek Patmore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWELVE Departure

EMILY PATMORE was dying. By 1861, her husband knew that there was no hope of her ever recovering. Her ill-health made it necessary that her large family of six children should be divided, as she was not strong enough to look after all of them. So she remained in London with her two elder daughters, Emily and Bertha, whilst the other children were boarded out and sent to school. Meanwhile Coventry Patmore spent all the hours he could spare from the British Museum in visiting his separated families.

The progress of her illness was tormenting in its uncertainty. One month she would feel better, the next she would have a relapse and be even worse than before. Her husband was distracted. He was haunted by the thought that he would not have her with him many years more. Tragically, their great love for each other could not save her, and Coventry Patmore wrote to Allingham:

We were too comfortable before all this happened. Providence takes care to startle people out of the dream that this world is a place to be jolly in.

His slender income was over-taxed in meeting doctor's bills and the expenses of supporting his growing children. However the devoted young couple seemed to bear all these troubles with unusual courage. The thought that they would probably be parted made their love even greater and more tender than when they were first married, and despite the cloud of sadness that hung over the family, there were many moments of exquisite harmony and domestic happiness.

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The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter One - the Return of a Victorian 1
  • Chapter Two - the Beginning 7
  • Chapter Three - Peter George Patmore and William Hazlitt 18
  • Chapter Four - the Duel 28
  • Chapter Five - Boyhood of Coventry Patmore 32
  • Chapter Six - First Poems 42
  • Chapter Seven - Disaster 51
  • Chapter Eight the Married Lover 58
  • Chapter Nine the Pre-Raphaelites 67
  • Chapter Ten the Angel in the House 77
  • Chapter Eleven Tennyson--The Friend 89
  • Chapter Twelve Departure 100
  • Chapter Thirteen Tired Memory 107
  • Chapter Fourteen Journey to Rome 121
  • Chapter Fifteen Second Marriage 132
  • Chapter Sixteen the Squire 140
  • Chapter Seventeen the Unknown Eros 154
  • Chapter Eighteen the Bride of Heaven 164
  • Chapter Nineteen Third Marriage 177
  • Chapter Twenty the Meeting of Two Poets 188
  • Chapter Twenty-One Lymington 203
  • Chapter Twenty-Two Alice Meynell 217
  • Chapter Twenty-Three London Life 226
  • Chapter Twenty-Four the End of the Journey 237
  • Bibliography 243
  • Index 245
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