The vaccination of Alfred Tennyson!

So, I will be going to the U.K. from 16 July through to 1 August, 2015. This trip is solely for pleasure and to get a chance to meet as many of my friends from across the pond as I can. The tricky bit is, I only have twelve days really to pack everything in. The first week I am staying with friends in Bag Enderby, Lincolnshire, England. I will get a chance to visit Alfred Tennyson's childhood home Somersby (possibly give a reading), I will do a bit of research at The Tennyson Research Centre (LINCS) and view their Tennyson Collection. His cloak, spanish looking hat, walking stick, pipes, manuscripts, photos, etc., are there as well as some Julia Margaret Cameron items. I will be walking around the wolds possibly Holywell and others, etc.  Then it is off to the Isle of Wight to stay with friends for about ten days or so. Dimbola Lodge, Farringford House (property due to restoration), Mrs. Middleton's Shop, and homes of others as well as many surprises I am told. 

So, I was reading through my volumes of, 'The Letters of Alfred Tennyson' when a page interested me and actually made me laugh out loud. I could so clearly picture the scene...Come with me won't you, briefly, to July 1863, Isle of Wight...

The House, Farringford, by Helen Allingham, Watercolor, 1890

Alfred Tennyson Letter to his wife Emily Sellwood Tennyson and friend, Anny Thackeray

29 June 1863
To Emily Sellwood Tennyson
June 29, 1863

A French doctor, a man of great and growing celebrity here, saw my leg last night, as he was going to dine here, so I thought he had better have a look at it and he said it did not matter, was very annoying and gave me some directions to follow. Dr. Jackson came this morning and saw it too and agreed with the Frenchman. Mrs. Prinsep is very civil and doctors me and bandages me day and night. (All owing to my being vaccinated.)

 June 30, 1863

I am not going to stir just at present from Little Holland House till my eczema is better. I am glad that Edmund Lushington relieves a little in the teaching of Lionel. My hay fever is certainly better.

Wednesday, 1 July 1863

My dear Annie Thackeray
I can’t come Ist because my good hostess and nurse says that I ought not in my present state 2dly because there is a floating invitation sent out to divers friends of mine and acceptable until Monday.

                                                                                                                                                Yours ever,

                                                                                                                                                A. Tennyson

 *Just a funny bit I wanted to share between Tennyson and Mrs. Cameron

Tennyson had been vaccinated on 19 May 1863, (The Farringford Journal of Emily Tennyson, 1853-1864 P.186), “Mrs. Cameron was profoundly interested in keeping the poet well, and fit for work. One evening a friend who was dining with her mentioned that there was small-pox in the neighbourhood. Mrs. Cameron started, “Alfred Tennyson has not been vaccinated for twenty years,” she said. “We must not lose a moment.” She went at once in search of the village doctor, took him to Farringford, and made her way to Tennyson’s study. He was busy and did not want to see her, but she pursued him from room to room. In the end he said: “Madam, if you will leave me I will do anything you like.” He was vaccinated. The sequel was told me by Tennyson himself. The vaccine proved to be bad, and he was not really well again for six months, so Mrs. Cameron’s intervention did not prove quite so fortunate as she had hoped.’ (Wilfred Ward, Men and Matters, p.259). In another version, she ‘followed him up to the smoking-room, where he had retreated and locked himself in. She hammered at the door, calling out “Alfred, you are a coward.” Alfred reiterated, “Woman, go away, I will be vaccinated to-morrow.” He kept his promise, but being done from a gouty baby, had eczema in his leg for two years’ (A.G.C. Liddell, Notes from the Life of an Ordinary Mortal, pp. 313-14) NOTE: A.G.C. Liddell was Alice Liddell’s second cousin. In case you recognized the surname and made the Freshwater Circle connection.

 So, I put it to you:  Should I get vaccinated before my trip?  

SOURCE:  The Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1851-1870 By Cecil Y. Lang, Edgar F. Shannon, Jr., pg. 334


Kevin Marsh said…
I always avoid vaccinations, the only drug I put inside my body is alcohol!
Nice post Kimberly. Looking forward to meeting up with you.

All the best.


Evie Hodgson said…
Love it. and No.:)
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi Kevin and Evie,
I am so excited to meet you and spend time with both of you!
WoofWoof said…
Wonderful story - it really brings the funny nature of the relationship between Cameron and Tennyson - the bossy Cameron pursuing Tennyson from room to room until he gave in! You do feel sorry for him though suffering for 6 months. I hope Julia learned her lesson!
Kimberly Eve said…
Oh WoofWoof, I do love this one as well. I must look and see if I can find any more lovely bits to share with all of you. I know what you mean about Bossy Mrs. C and the struggles of ALT! Bless them and you x