The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore

By Derek Patmore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO
Alice Meynell

Never, surely, was a lady who carried her learning and wore the flower of her gentle human sanctity with such quiet grace, with so understanding a smile.

Richard Le Gallienne on Alice Meynell.

LIKE a triumphing tide, his life was ebbing to its final close. Recognition and praise were at last beginning to be his, and now a last great love swept across his life, searing his spirit with the intensity of its cold passion. He had known love in all its disguises. Now he was to experience love in one of its most subtle and dangerous forms--the infatuation of the intellect.

Coventry Patmore's friendship for Alice Meynell was so deeply felt that only the word love can describe it adequately. She gave him the understanding and appreciation he had always craved when she wrote to him: 'I have never told you what I think of your poetry. It is the greatest thing in the world, the most harrowing and the sweetest. I can hardly realise that he who has written it and who is greater than his words is celestially kind to me and calls me friend.'

How could he resist this brilliant woman, who adored his poetry with such a passion that she could write to him: 'I hope you will forgive me for keeping your MSS. a little longer. They are quite safe, and I cannot tell you what a consolation it is to me to read them as I can get time. But I read them with many tears and my heart is full of sorrow.'

And another day, she could write, with charming femininity, 'I have read the "Odes" yet again with a new amazement. And then after my tears over them, I bought a new frock to please you.'

They had first met through their mutual admiration of each

-217-

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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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