|Portrait of Tennyson, by Millais. |
A figure who inspired upstanding behavior...
William Morris's friend, William Allingham, was an Irish man of letters with a penchant for collecting famous friends. He was also a devoted keeper of diaries. As a result, his unfinished autobiography, "William Allingham, a Diary" is an amazing resource, sprinkled with tales of Morris, Rossetti, Carlyle, and Tennyson.
This is one of my favorite stories from the diary, a re-telling of a story that Tennyson had told Allingham:
I was at an hotel in Covent Garden, and went out one morning for a walk in the Piazza. A man met me, tolerably well-dressed but battered-looking. I never saw him before that I know of. He pulled off his hat and said, “Beg pardon, Mr. Tennyson, might I say a word to you?” I stopped. “I've been drunk for three days and I want to make a solemn promise to you, Mr Tennyson, that I won't do so any more.” I said that was a good resolve, and I hoped he would keep it. He said, “I promise you I will, Mr. Tennyson,” and added, “Might I shake your hand?” I shook hands with him, and he thanked me and went on his way.”