As I have stated in the section on Patmore's early life, the poet's father was somewhat of an agnostic, if not at least an atheist, and although P. G. Patmore did not ascribe to any traditional faith he did lean towards the general principles and formalities of Christianity. Although Patmore was himself an Anglican, in his early life he still seemed to lean closer towards his father's religious beliefs rather than his mother's puritanical faith. Thus from the outset, Patmore, the poetic advocate of the sanctity of marriage and religion, had ironically already found himself caught between two religious traditions.

At the time of his marriage to Emily, Patmore was an Anglican with an inclination towards Rome. (His interest in Roman Catholicism seems to have begun early in his life as a reaction to his mother's puritanical beliefs). Nonetheless, Emily Augusta was a puritanical Protestant, and thus the two in search of a religious common ground settled for a compromise in which Emily converted to the High Anglican Church, and Coventry gave up his Roman Catholic tendencies. Despite this compromise, after Emily's death, Patmore wrote in retrospect in his autobiography:

I believe that when I reached the age of thirty-five, what mainly held me back was the steady repugnance of my wife to the faith which I was gradually approaching. Her natural judgment was so good and her goodness so perfect that her opposition was in itself a very weighty argument. She had been terrified from her cradle with the hideous phantom which Protestantism conjures up when the Catholic religion is named . . .Only a few days before she died, she said to me with tears, "When I am gone, they will get you; and then I shall see you no more!"

Whereas Reid makes note of this rift in faith between the husband and wife, Champneys makes a point of de-emphasizing it, stating that although Emily may have found Patmore's Roman tendencies somewhat unsettling, she understood his mystical bent and even encouraged his love for transcendental thought. Nevertheless, whatever Patmore's sentiments were concerning his and his first wife's religious differences during and after her lifetime, Patmore still converted to Roman Catholicism for his second wife only four years after Emily's death (see section on Marianne Caroline Byles and the Heron Ghyll Estate) and remained a Roman Catholic for the remainder of his life.

Related Materials

References

Champneys, Basil. Memoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore. 2 vols. London, G. Bell & Sons, 1900.


Victorian Overview Coventry Patmore Biography

Last updated 29 June 2004