[Farringford—Saturday, 16 July 1859]
Saturday morning. We both arose well to find another lovely day breezy and cool to hear the birds chirping about the window and the rose tapping on the pane. We were down stairs before 9 o’clock hoping we might arrive in season for service which Jamie had heard her read the day before. She was there but service was over. Jamie and I breakfasted together. Tennyson looked in with his hat on as if disturbed to find us there so early. After we had finished he came and took his breakfast as if he did not wish to speak a word. I sat reading diligently in a corner. Soon he turned and said, “Got something you like to read?” An answer in the affirmative satisfied him and he read the “Times” and took his breakfast in silence.
Miss Cotton came early to drive us to the “Needles.” Such a vision as it was I hope we may never forget such wonder as possessed the heart at the sight of the lonely Downs the precipitous cliffs, with their wild inhabitants the birds, and the water itself far far below so far that the ships were like swans to our astonished eyes and wave-less as the grassy Down whereon we stood. While looking at the sea I seemed in Italy such a silvery halo dimmed the enchanted distance making the earth and heavens the real and the ideal blend with such entire harmony that we forgot the things we were and lived but in the purer region of the soul.
We shortened our lovely drive because the poet and Lady Grant were to lunch with us and after-ward Maud was to be read. We found a charming feast prepared and the poet was induced to join us although it was not his hour for taking dinner and once more the gentle boys danced in kissing each one except their mother “they were out of kisses she said before they reached her” but they stayed pillowing their graceful heads upon her breasts with full contented hearts.
And after lunch came Maud. He said “How can I read after such a mid-day meal?” Then to me “Come and sit before me that you may not see me read.” I obeyed as all must to his will in such matters. Finally, he read his Maud, the whole great story stopping occasionally to explain or to question, but eager to gratify us, read steadily. Our carriage came before he finished but he said it could wait if we did not meet the cars and again read on. Full of pathos, full of beauty, and at last full of misery. Here he made an end.
And now, this visit, a star in our firmament of happiness lives but in memory. Her parting kiss still dwells upon my cheek and the parting wave of her graceful hand from within the vine-clad door-way. The immortal Alfred stands by her side cheered by her sweet beauty and swings his hat full of good wishes to us but the trees hide them and we are left together to be thankful for the privilege of having dwelt beneath a roof sheltering Wisdom and Holiness the rarest and divinest attainments men can reach.
Leaving the Tennyson’s house far below us in an embowered valley among the sloping Downs on Saturday afternoon the 16th of July and straining our eyes until the last tree top became invisible, we journeyed on with the silvery blue sea stretching far out below us, our horses gaining new invigoration as they advanced from the fresh and fragrant air. Such a drive! Through 16 miles of the most varied and wonderful beauty. Now the flowering hedges excited our admiration and now the bold cliffs and again the exquisite villages half hidden in luxuriant mid-summer foliage. We stopped at Blackgang Chine to look at the startling majesty of the shore softened and made lovely by the setting sun-light. It was nearly 9 oclock when we reached this place but still the delicate sun-set tints were in the sky.