LIFE in London during the ''nineties' was a very different world from the one Patmore had known in the days of his first success--those far-off days when, as the young author of the Poems of 1844 he had attended the soirées of Lord Northampton, the parties of Monckton Milnes, and the literary salon of Mrs. Procter, with its eighteenth-century traditions.
This society was more frivolous, more light-hearted, and more decadent. It was the period of Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde, and of brilliant arrivistes like Frank Harris.
However, there is no doubt that Patmore enjoyed his reentry into social life. His letters to his wife show that like every other man of eminence he was flattered by the attention shown him by his contemporaries at this late date in his life. Guided by the hand of his adored Alice Meynell, he attended dinners and parties with a quiet, amused interest.
Together, the two friends often visited Sargent's studio for the painting of Patmore's portrait, and one day Sargent drew Mrs. Meynell at her friend's request. They attended 'studio' Sunday at Sir Frederick Leighton's, then at the height of his popularity.
As he wrote to his wife:
Yesterday, I went to the Meynells' to luncheon, and afterwards to Sir F. Leighton's. It was 'Studio Sunday' when all the great artists show their pictures to their friends. Leighton's great house was thronged with fashionable people. I asked him to let me have cards for the private view that I might bring you. He said that cards went, as a matter of course, with the Anniversary Dinner. I am told that to receive an invitation to this Dinner is the greatest social distinction of the London Season. Gosse seemed astonished at such proof of my newly acquired eminence. I thought he seemed rather jealous. There were a