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LORD TENNYSON                              187
a conventional society woman I made her as insipid to the public as to myself. After the first week I went back to my old declamatory rendering of the part, having found that many of Knowles's bombastic lines would not bear natural treatment.
It was at the Deanery of Westminster that I met Lord Tennyson for the first time. He had a noble head and presence, but my first feeling was one of keen disappointment, simply because I did not find the laureate exactly what I expected him to be. To form an ideal of any person, thing, or place beforehand is no doubt a mistake; for there is a disturbing surprise in store for one, even if the original surpasses the ideal.
The poet's manner at first struck many as gruff. I felt it so then; though, on knowing him better, I found him one of the kindest and most sympathetic natures. He did not come into the drawing-room after luncheon, for his pipe seemed a necessity to him on all occasions. He sent for me before I left, and during our tete-a-tete his manner had so changed as to lead me to believe that his former brusqueness was only due to shyness. Mrs. Gladstone was of the party. Most