Bless you ever and your Edith; keep me in mind as your very own always affectionate
The poet's love for Asolo is revealed in the following letter to Mrs. Bronson:
29, DEVERE GARDENS, W.
DEAREST FRIEND,—I shall delight in fancying your life at Asolo, my very own of all Italian towns; your house built into the wall, and the neighboring castle ruins, and the wonderful outlook; on a clear day you can see much further than Venice. I mentioned some of the dear spots pointed out to my faith as ruins, while what wants no faith at all,—the green hills surrounding you, Posagno close by,—how you will enjoy it! And do go there and get all the good out of the beautiful place I used to dream about so often in old days, till at last I saw it again, and the dreams stopped,—to begin, again, I trust, with a figure there never associated with Asolo before. Shall I ever see you there in no dream? I cannot say; I feel inclined to leave England this next autumn that is so soon to overtake us....
Pen stays a few days longer in Paris to complete his picture. He had declined to compete at the Exposition, but has been awarded a Medal (3rd), which, however, enables him to dispense with the permission of the Salon that his works shall be received. Julian Story gets also a medal of the same class. Pen reports stupendously of the Paris show....
... Well, you know we have been entertaining and entertained by the Shah. I met him at Lord Roseberry's, and before dinner was presented to him, when he asked me in French: "Etes-vous poete?" "On s'est permis de le dire quelquefois." "Et vous avez fait des livres?" "Plusieurs livres?" "Trop de livres." "Voulez-vous m'en faire le cadeau d'un de vos livres afin que je puisse me ressouvenir de vous?" "Avec plaisir." Accordingly I went next day to a shop where they keep them ready bound, and chose a brightly covered "selection."...
All the outing I have accomplished was a week at Oxford, which was a quiet one,—Jowett's health, I fear, not allowing the usual invitation of guests to Balliol. I had all the more of him, to my great satisfaction.
Sarianna is quite in her ordinary health, but tired as we cannot but be. She is away from the house, but I know how much she would have me put in of love in what I would say for her.... Did you get a little book by Michael Field? "Long Ago," a number of poems written to innestare what fragmentary lines and words we have left of Sappho's poetry. I want to know particularly how they strike you.
To Tennyson for his eightieth birthday Mr. Browning writes:
To-morrow is your birthday, indeed a memorable one. Let me say I associate myself with the universal pride of our country in your glory, and in its hope that for many and many a year we may have your very self among us; secure that your poetry will be a wonder and delight to all those appointed to come after; and for my own part let me further say, I have loved you dearly. May God bless you and yours! I have had disastrous experience.... Admiringly and Affectionately yours,
To this letter Lord Tennyson replied:
ALDWORTH, August, 1889.
MY DEAR BROWNING,—I thank you with my whole heart and being for your noble and affectionate letter, and with my whole heart and being I return your friendship. To be loved and appreciated by so great and powerful a nature as yours will be a solace to me, and lighten my dark hours during the short time of life that is left to us.
The poet found himself again longing for his Italy. To Mrs. Bronson, under date of August 8, he wrote, referring to a letter of hers received two days before, crowned with "the magical stamp of Asolo":
"... So a fancy springs up which shall have utterance as just a fancy. The time has come for determining on some change of place, if change is ever to be, and, I repeat, just a fancy, if I were inclined to join you at Asolo, say a fortnight hence, could good rooms be procurable for Sarianna and myself? Now as you value—I won't say my love, but my respect and esteem—understand me literally, and give me only the precise information I want—not one half-syllable about accommodation in your house!
"I ask because when I and Sarianna went there years ago, the old Locanda on the Square lay in ruins, and we put up at a rougher inn in the town's self. I dare say the principal hotel is rebuilt by this time, or rather has grown somewhat old. Probably you are there indeed. Just tell us exactly. Pen is trying his best to entice us his way, which means to Primiero and Venice; but the laziness of age is subduing me, and how I shrink from the 'middle passage,'—all that day and night whirling from London to Basle, with the eleven or twelve hours to Milan. Milan opens on Paradise, but the getting to Milan! Perhaps I shall turn northward and go to Scotland after all. Still, dear and good one, tell me what I ask. After the requisite information you will please tell me accurately how you are, how that wicked gad-a-bout, Edith, is, and where; and what else you can generously afford of news,—news Venetian, I mean...."
Later the poet writes:
"... I trust that as few clouds as may be may trouble the blue of our month at Asolo; I shall bring your book full of verses for a final overhauling on the spot where, when I first saw it, inspiration seemed to steam up from the very ground.
"And so Edith is (I conjecture, I hope, rightly) to be with you; won't I show her the little ridge in the ruin where one talks to the echo to greatest advantage."
From Milan Browning wrote to Mrs. Bronson:
DEAREST FRIEND,—It is indeed a delight to expect a meeting so soon. Be good and mindful of how simple our tastes and wants are, and how they have been far more than satisfied by the half of what you provided to content them. I shall have nothing to do but to enjoy your company, not even the little business of improving my health since that seems perfect. I hear you do not walk as in the old days. I count upon setting that right again. O Venezia, benedetta!
It was with greater enjoyment, apparently, than ever before even, that Mr. Browning turned to the Asolo of his "Pippa Passes" and "Sordello." Mrs. Bronson, in her brilliant and sympathetic picturing of the poet, speaks of his project "to raise a tower like Pippa's near a certain property in Asolo, where he and Miss Browning might pass at least a part of every year." The "certain property," to which Mrs. Bronson so modestly alludes, was her own place, "La Mura." The tower has since been erected by the poet's son, and the dream is thus fulfilled, though the elder Browning did not live to see it. Mrs. Bronson describes his enjoyment of nature in this lovely little hill-town,—"the ever-changing cloud shadows on the plain, the ranges of many-tinted mountains in the distance, and the fairy-like outline of the blue Euganean Hills, which form in part the southern boundary of the vast Campagna." Browning would speak of the associations which these hills bear with the names of Shelley and Byron.
Across the deep ravine from La Mura a ruined tower was all that remained of the villa of Queen Catarina Cornaro, who, when she lost Cyprus, retired to Asolo; and in Browning's dedication to Mrs. Bronson of his "Asolando," he ascribes the title to Cardinal Bembo, the secretary of Queen Catarina. Mr. Browning loved to recall the traditions of that poetic little court, which for two decades was held within those walls, whose decay was fairly hidden by the wealth of flowers that embowered them. Of his own project he would talk, declaring that he would call it "Pippa's Tower," and that it should be so built that from it he could see Venice every day. He playfully described the flag-signals that should aid communication between "Pippa's Tower" and Casa Alvisi. "A telephone is too modern," he said; and explained that when he asked his friend to dine the flag should be blue,—her favorite color; and if her answer was yes, her flag should be the same color; or if no, her flag should be red. This last visit of the poet to his city of dream and vision seemed to Mrs. Bronson one of unalloyed pleasure. "To think that I should be here again!" he more than once exclaimed, as if with an unconscious recognition that these weeks were to complete the cycle of his life on earth. Asolo is thirty-four miles from Venice, and it is within easy driving distance of Possagno, the native place of Canova, in whose memory the town has a museum filled with his works and casts. "Pen must see this," remarked Mr. Browning, as he lingered over the statues and groups and tombs. Mrs. Bronson records that one day on returning from a drive to Bassano the poet was strangely silent, and no one spoke; finally he announced that he had written a poem since they left Bassano. In response to an exclamation of surprise he said: "Oh, it's all in my head, but I shall write it out presently." His hostess asked if he would not even say what inspired it, to which he returned:
"Well, the birds twittering in the trees suggested it. You know I don't like women to wear those things in their bonnets." The poem in question proved to be "The Lady and the Painter."
Mr. Browning took the greatest enjoyment in the view from Mrs. Bronson's loggia. "Here," he would say, "we can enjoy beauty without fatigue, and be protected from sun, wind, and rain." His hostess has related that its charm made him often break his abstemious habit of refusing the usual five o'clock refreshment, and that he "loved to hear the hissing urn," and when occasionally accepting a cup of tea and a biscuit would say, "I think I am the better for this delicious tea, after all."
Every afternoon at three they all went to drive, exploring the region in all directions. The driving in Asolo seemed to charm him as did the gondola excursions in Venice. "He observed everything," said Mrs. Bronson, "hedges, trees, the fascination of the little river Musone, the great carri piled high with white and purple grapes. He removed his hat in returning the salutation of a priest, and touched his hat in returning the salutation of the poorest peasant, who, after the manner of the country, lifted his own to greet the passing stranger. 'I always salute the church,' Mr. Browning would say; 'I respect it.'"
All his life Browning was an early riser. In Asolo, as elsewhere, he began his day with a cold bath at seven, and at eight he and his sister sat down to their simple breakfast, their hostess keeping no such heroic hours. Mrs. Bronson had adopted the foreign fashion of having her light breakfast served in her room, and her mornings were given to her wide correspondence and her own reading and study. She was a most accomplished and scholarly woman, whose goodness of heart and charm of manner were paralleled by her range of intellectual interests and her grasp of affairs.
After breakfasting Browning and his sister, inseparable companions always, would start off on their wanderings over the hills. The poet was keenly interested in searching out the points of interest of his early years in Asolo; the "echo," the remembered views, the vista whose fascination still remained for him. From the ruined rocca that crowned the hill, the view comprised all the violet-hued plain, stretching away to Padua, Vicenzo, Bassano; the entire atmosphere filled with historic and poetic associations. How the poet mirrored the panorama in his stanzas:
"How many a year, my Asolo, Since—one step just from sea to land— I found you, loved yet feared you so— For natural objects seemed to stand Palpably fire-clothed! No—"
The "lambent flame," and "Italia's rare, o'er-running beauty," enchanted his vision.
Returning from their saunterings, the brother and sister took up their morning reading of English and French newspapers, Italian books, with the poet's interludes always of his beloved Greek dramatists.
In these October days the Storys arrived to visit Mrs. Bronson in her picturesque abode. An ancient wall, mostly in ruins, with eighteen towers, still surrounds Asolo, and partly in one of these towers, and partly in the arch of the old portal, "La Mura" was half discovered and half constructed. Its loggia had one wall composed entirely of sliding glass, which could be a shelter from the storm with no obstruction of the view, or be thrown open to all the bloom and beauty of the radiant summer. Just across the street was the apartment in which Mrs. Bronson bestowed her guests.
That Browning and Story should thus be brought together again for their last meeting on earth, however undreamed of to them, prefigures itself now as another of those mosaic-like events that combined in beauty and loveliness to make all his last months on earth a poetic sequence. The Storys afterward spoke of Mr. Browning as being "well, and in such force, brilliant, and delightful as ever"; and the last words that passed between the poet and the sculptor were these of Browning's: "We have been friends for forty years, forty years without a break!"
On the first day of November this perfect and final visit to Asolo ended, and yielding to the entreaties of his son, Browning and his sister bade farewell to Mrs. Bronson and her daughter, who were soon to follow them to Venice, where the poet and Miss Browning were to be the guests of the Barrett Brownings in Palazzo Rezzonico.
The events of all these weeks seem divinely appointed to complete with stately symmetry this noble life. As one of them he found in Venice his old friend, and (as has before been said) the greatest interpreter of his poetry, Dr. Hiram Corson. The Cornell professor was taking his University Sabbatical year, and with Mrs. Corson had arrived in Venice just before the poet came down from Asolo. "I called on him the next day," Dr. Corson said of this meeting. "He seemed in his usual vigor, and expressed great pleasure in the restorations his son was making in the palace. 'It's a grand edifice,' he said, 'but too vast.'"
Dr. Corson continued:
"He was then engaged in reading the proofs of his 'Asolando.' He usually walked two hours every day; went frequently in his gondola with his sister to his beloved Lido, and one day when I walked with him
'Where St. Mark's is, where the Doges used to wed the sea with rings,'
I had to quicken my steps to keep pace with him. He called my attention to an interesting feature of this world-renowned place, and told me much of their strange history. He knew the city literally par coeur."
Mr. Browning passed with Dr. and Mrs. Corson the last morning they were in Venice. Of the parting Dr. Corson has since written in a personal letter to a friend:
"He told us much about himself; about Asolo, which he had first visited more than fifty years before, during his visit to Italy in 1838, when, as he says in the Prologue to 'Asolando,' alluding to 'the burning bush,'
'Natural objects seemed to stand Palpably fire-clothed.'
"A servant announcing that the gondola had come to take us to the railway station, he rose from his chair, and said, 'Now be sure to visit me next May, in London. You'll remember where my little house is in De Vere Gardens'; and bidding us a cordial good-bye, with a 'God bless you both,' he hastened away. We little thought, full of life as he then was, that we should see him no more in this world."
To a letter from Miss Browning to their hostess, Browning added:
DEAREST MRS. BRONSON,—I am away from you in one sense, never to be away from the thought of you, and your inexpressible kindness. I trust you will see your way to returning soon. Venice is not herself without you, in my eyes—I dare say this is a customary phrase, but you well know what reason I have to use it, with a freshness as if it were inspired for the first time. Come, bringing news of Edith, and the doings in the house, and above all of your own health and spirits and so rejoice
Ever your affectionate
With another letter of his sister's to their beloved friend and hostess, Mr. Browning sent the following note,—perhaps the last lines that he ever wrote to Mrs. Bronson, as she returned almost immediately to Casa Alvisi, and the daily personal intercourse renewed itself to be broken only by his illness and death. The poet wrote:
PALAZZO REZZONICO, Nov. 5th, 1889.
DEAREST FRIEND,—A word to slip into the letter of Sarianna, which I cannot see go without a scrap of mine. (Come and see Pen and you will easily concert things with him.) I have all confidence in his knowledge and power.
I delight in hearing how comfortably all is proceeding with you at La Mura. I want to say that having finished the first two volumes of Gozzi, I brought the third with me to finish at my leisure and return to you; and particularly I may mention that the edition is very rare and valuable. It appears that Symmonds has just thought it worth while to translate the work, and he was six months finding a copy to translate from!
... I have got—since three or four days—the whole of my new volume in type, and expect to send it back, corrected, by to-morrow at latest. But I must continue at my work lest interruptions occur, so, bless you and good-bye in the truest sense, dear one!
Ever Your Affectionately
The "new volume in type" to which he referred was his collection entitled "Asolando," all of which, with the exception of one poem, had been written within the last two years of his life.
Mr. Barrett Browning relates that while his father was reading aloud these last proofs to himself and his wife, the poet paused over the "Epilogue," at the stanza—
"One who never turned his back but marched breast forward, Never doubted clouds would break, Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph, Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, Sleep to wake."
and remarked: "It almost seems like praising myself to say this, and yet it is true, the simple truth, and so I shall not cancel it."
November, often lovely in Venice, was singularly summer-like that year. On one day Mr. Browning found the heat on the Lido "scarcely endurable," indeed, but "snow-tipped Alps" revealed themselves in the distance, offering a strange contrast to the brilliant sunshine and the soft blue skies. Still November is not June, after all, however perfect the imitation of some of its days. One day there was a heavy fog on his favorite Lido, and the poet, who refused to be deprived of his walk, became thoroughly chilled and illness followed. The following note from Mr. Barrett Browning to Mrs. Bronson indicates the anxiety that prevailed in Palazzo Rezzonico, where the tenderest care of his son and daughter-in-law ministered to the poet. The note is undated, save by the day of the week.
9 o'clock, Monday Evening.
DEAREST MRS. BRONSON,—The improvement of last night is scarcely maintained this morning,—the action of the heart being weaker at moments. He is quite clear-headed, and is never tired of saving he feels better, "immensely better,—I don't suppose I could get up and walk about, in fact I know I could not, but I have no aches or pains,—quite comfortable, could not be more so,"—this is what he said a moment ago.
I will let you know if there is any change as the day goes on.
My love to you.
The delightful relations that had always prevailed between the poet and his publishers were touchingly completed when, just before he breathed his last, came a telegram from George Murray Smith with its tidings of the interest with which "Asolando" was being received in England. And then this little note written on that memorable date of December 12, 1889, from Barrett Browning to Mrs. Bronson, tells the story of the poet's entrance on the new life.
DEAREST FRIEND,—Our Beloved breathed his last as San Marco's clock struck ten,—without pain—unconsciously.
I was able to make him happy a little before he became unconscious by a telegram from Smith saying, "Reviews in all this day's papers most favorable, edition nearly exhausted."
He just murmured, "How gratifying."
Those were his last intelligible words.
In that hour how could the son and the daughter who so loved him remember aught save the exquisite lines with which the poet had anticipated the reunion with his "Lyric Love":
"Then a light, then thy breast, O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again, And with God be the rest!"
In the grand sala with its floor of black Italian marble and its lofty ceiling with exquisite fresco decoration, the simple and impressive service was held in Palazzo Rezzonico, and a fleet of gondolas, filled with friends and accompanied by the entire Venetian Syndic, bore the casket to its temporary resting-place in the chapel of San Michele, in the campo santo. The gondola that carried the casket had an angel, carved in wood, at the prow, and a lion at the stern. Dean Bradley, on behalf of Westminster Abbey, had telegraphed to Robert Barrett Browning, asking that the body of the poet might be laid within those honored walls; and as the cemetery in Florence wherein is Mrs. Browning's tomb had long been closed, this honor from England was accepted. The same honor of a final resting-place in Westminster Abbey was also extended for the removal of the body of Mrs. Browning, but their son rightly felt that he must yield to the wishes of Florence that her tomb be undisturbed, and it is fitting that it should remain in the Italy she so loved.
So associated with her brother's life was Miss Sarianna Browning that the story would be incomplete not to add that she survived him many years,—a gracious and beloved presence. In the January following the poet's death, she said in a letter to Mrs. Bronson:
"I have already let a day pass without thanking you for the most beautiful locket, which I love even more for your sake than his. I shall always think of you, so good, so near, and so dearly loved by him. All your watchfulness over our smallest comfort,—how he felt it!... Bless you forever for all the joy you gave him at Asolo,—how happy he was! And how you were entwined in all our plans for the happy future we were to enjoy there! Think of him when you go back, as loving the whole place, and yourself, the embodiment of its sweetness."
Miss Browning died in her nephew's home, La Torre All' Antella, near Florence, in the spring of 1903, in her ninetieth year.
On the facade of the Palazzo Rezzonico the City of Venice placed this inscription to the memory of the poet:
A ROBERTO BROWNING MORTO IN QUESTO PALAZZO IL 12 DICEMBRE, 1889 VENEZIA POSE
"Open my heart and you will see Graved inside of it,—'Italy'"
It was on the last day of 1889 that the impressive rites were held in Westminster Abbey for Robert Browning. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Dean of Windsor, an aid-de-camp representing Queen Victoria, Dean Bradley, the sub-dean, and many eminent canons, and Sir Frederick Bridge, of the Abbey choir, all were present among the officiating clergy. The casket under its purple pall, with a massive cross of violets, and wreaths of lilies-of-the valley, and white roses (Mrs. Browning's favorite flower), was followed by the honorary pall-bearers including Hallam Tennyson, representing the Poet Laureate (whose health did not permit him to be present), Archdeacon Farrar, the Master of Balliol (representing Oxford), the Master of Trinity (representing Cambridge), Professor Masson (representing the University of Edinburgh), and George Murray Smith. The committal service was entirely choral, and Mrs. Browning's poem with its touching refrain,
"He giveth His beloved sleep!"
was chanted by the full vested choir of the Abbey, to music composed for the occasion by Sir Frederick Bridge. Preceding the Benediction, the entire vast concourse of people united in singing the hymn,
"O God, our help in ages past!"
As that great assemblage turned away from the last rites in commemoration of the poet who produced the largest body of poetry, and the most valuable as a spiritual message, of any English poet, was there not wafted in the air the choral strains from some unseen angelic choir, that thrilled the venerable Abbey with celestial triumph:
"'Glory to God—to God!' he saith: Knowledge by suffering entereth, And Life is perfected by Death."
Abinger, Lord, 18
"Abt Vogler," 205
"Andrea del Sarto," 152, 170
"Any Wife to Any Husband," 152
"Apprehension, An," 47
Arnold, Matthew, 112
Arnould, Joseph, friendship for Browning, 14, 39, 40, 129; letters to Domett, 69, 94, 99, 103
Ashburton, Lady Louisa, 222
"Asolando," 5, 282, 292
"Aurora Leigh," 50, 52, 76, 127, 134, 143, 148, 158, 160, 164, 167, 171, 174-176, 210
"Balaustion's Adventure," 229
Barrett, Alfred, 16, 164
——, Arabel, 16, 50, 129, 137, 164, 202, 212
——, Edward (brother), 16, 22, 59; death of, 18, 62, 135
——, Edward (father) legal name, 17; marriage, 18; character, 20, 21, 121, 164; death, 178
——, Elizabeth. See Moulton-Barrett, Elizabeth
——, George, 16, 50
——, Henrietta (Mrs. Surtees Cook), 16, 50; marriage, 121; affection for sister, 129; 137, 164, 192
——, Mrs. (mother), 18, 21
"Battle of Marathon," 20
"Beatrice Signorini," 237, 267
"Bells and Pomegranates," 14, 39, 67, 68
"Ben Karshook's Wisdom," 158
Berdoe, Dr., commentary on "Paracelsus," 37
"Bertha in the Lane," 46, 71
"Bishop Blougram's Apology," 205
Blagden, Isabella, friendship with Brownings, 111, 112, 178, 182, 184, 190, 191, 197, 200, 201, 207, 225; death, 229
Blessington, Lady, 33, 113, 138
"Blot in the 'Scutcheon, A," 69
"Book of the Poets, The," 64, 206
Boyd, Hugh Stuart, tutor, 22; letters from Elizabeth Barrett, 25, 45, 53, 55, 63, 64, 68, 73, 89
Bronson, Mrs. Arthur (Katherine DeKay), friendship with Browning, 242, 273; letters from Browning, 243, 248, 249, 252-260, 265, 271, 272, 277-286, 291, 292; hospitality, 242, 274-276; entertains Browning in Asolo, 286, 287, 290; letters from Robert Barrett Browning, 293-294; letter from Sarianna Browning, 295
Bronson, Edith (Contessa Rucellai), 275, 280
Brooks, Rev. Dr. Phillips, 211, 212
Browning, Mrs. (mother), 4-6, 38
——, Elizabeth Barrett, birth, 16; childhood, 17, 19; ancestry, 17, 18; first literary work, 20; accident to, 21; studies, 22; tastes, 23, 24; removal to Sidmouth, 24; translation of "Prometheus Bound," 44; removal to London, 45; fugitive poems, 46-48, 53; Hebrew Bible, 49; definite periods in her life, 50; change of residence, 54, 56; notable friends, 58, 59; publication of "The Seraphim," 56; literary criticisms, 60, 61, 67, 68; goes to Torquay, 59; personal appearance, 58; death of brother, 62; returns to England, 63; translations from Greek, 64; description of her room, 65; refusal to meet Browning, 65; publication of two volumes of poems, 71; literary reputation established, 71, 72; first letter from Browning, 73, 74; correspondence of poets, 74-89; meets Browning, 80; lyrics, 83, 84; marriage, 87, 89; will, 93; lyrics, 100, 101; mentioned for Laureateship, 121, 122; books read by, 143; genius for friendship, 148; comment on dress, 151; description of, 153, 179; souvenir locket, 153; views on life, 159; appreciation of Tennyson, 166; success of "Aurora Leigh," 174-176; American appreciation, 187; ill health, 193, 195; closing days, 196; last words, 197; burial, 197; tomb, 200; tablet on Casa Guidi to her memory, 218, 264; Tauchnitz edition of poems, 227
Browning, Reuben (uncle), 8
——, Robert (father), character and qualities, 4-6; removal to Paris, 132; talent for caricature, 137; death, 210
——, Robert (grandfather), 4
——, Robert, ancestry of, 4-6; birth, 4; childhood and early tastes, 6-8; first literary work, 7; home atmosphere, 10, 11; school, 12; influenced by Byron and Shelley, 13, 14; juvenile verses, 14; publication of "Pauline," 14; visit to Russia, 27, 28; meets Wordsworth, Landor, Dickens, and Leigh Hunt, 30, 32; personal appearance, 31; writes play for Macready, 33; visit to Venice, 35, 36; removal to Hatcham, 38; English friends and social life, 38-41; hears of Elizabeth Barrett, 41; visit to Italy, 70, 71; return to England, 71; correspondence of the poets, 74-89; first meeting with Miss Barrett, 80; marriage, 87, 89; sees "Sonnets from the Portuguese," 109; lyrics, 120, 121, 152; keynote of his art, 122-125; interpretation of Shelley, 133, 134; Fisher's portrait of, 153; Page's portrait of, 155; literary standing, 172; finds "Old Yellow Book," 181; homage to Landor, 183; leaves Florence forever, 200; returns to London, 200; takes London house, 202; literary work, 203-207; extension of social activities, 206, 207; friendship with Jowett, 209; meeting with Tennyson, 210; death of father, 210; Oxford conferred degree of M.A., 211; made Honorary Fellow of Balliol College, 211; new six-volume edition of poems, 213; dedication to Tennyson, 213; success of "The Ring and the Book," 214-215; comparison of character of Pompilia to that of his wife, 219; visits Scotland with the Storys, 221-222; conversation and personal charm, 222-224; with Milsand in "Red Cotton Night-cap Country," 224-226; prepares Tauchnitz edition of Mrs. Browning's poems, 227; friendship with Domett, 228; relations with Tennyson, 230-232; facility for rhyming, 231; visit to Oxford and Cambridge, 232; sojourn at "La Saisiaz," 233-234; revisits Italy, 235, 239-240; doctrine of life, 237; Oxford conferred degree of D.C.L., 241; son's portrait of, 242; friendship with Mrs. Bronson, 242; gift from Browning Societies, 243; letters to Mrs. Bronson, 243, 248, 249, 252-260, 265, 271, 272, 277-286, 291; Italian recognition, 245; honored at Edinburgh, 249; letters to Professor Masson, 249, 250; removal to DeVere Gardens, 260; Foreign Correspondent to Royal Academy, 266; poet of intensity, 270; last year in London, 281; return to Asolo, 287-288; last meeting with the Storys and Dr. Corson, 289-290; death, 294; memorial inscription, 295; burial, 295
Browning, Robert Barrett ("Penini"), birth, 107; anecdotes of, 126, 139, 144, 146, 147, 155; studies of, 171, 178, 180, 185, 188, 192, 193; love of novels, 181; enjoyment of Siena, 184; children's party at French Embassy, 194; preparation for University, 202; characteristics, 202, 265; explanation of "The Ring and the Book," 218; begins study of painting, 227; picture in Royal Academy, 227; success in art, 236, 241; marriage to Miss Coddington, 260; purchase of Palazzo Rezzonico, 262; portrait of father, 217, 242; portrait of Milsand, 263; purchase of Casa Guidi, 265; Florentine villa, 264-265, 267
——, Robert Jardine, 38
——, Sarianna, 4, 38; letter from Browning, 71; letters from Mrs. Browning, 195; goes to live with brother, 211; letter to Domett, 228; travels with brother, 236; letters to Mrs. Bronson, 248, 293; death, 295
Brownings, The, life in Paris, 92, 93; finances, 93; journey to Italy, 95; winter in Pisa, 95, 97; home in Florence, 97; visit to Vallombrosa, 98, 99; apartments in Casa Guidi, 100, 101; trip to Fano, 103, 104; literary work, 106; meet Story, 107; summer at Bagni di Lucca, 107; Florentine friends and life, 111-113, 118, 119; visit to Siena, 125; return to England, 129; life and friends in Paris, 130-137; return to England, 137; social life in London, 137-141; return to Casa Guidi, 142; summer at Bagni di Lucca, 144-151; winter in Rome, 152-157; "Clasped Hands," 153; pilgrimage to Albano, 156; return to Florence, 157; poetic work, 158; Italian appreciation, 161; return to London, 164; Tennyson reads "Maud" to them, 165; winter and social life in Paris, 167-172; return to Florence, 176; Florentine gayety, 176, 178; summer in Normandy, 179; another winter in Rome, 180; return to Florence, 181; summer in Siena, 184-185; in Florence again, 185; Roman winter, 185, 188-189; journey to Florence, 189-190; last summer in Siena, 191-192; last winter in Rome, 192-193; return to Casa Guidi, 195; memorials in Palazzo Rezzonico, 262
"Browning Society, The," 240
Browning, William Shergold, 38
Brunton, Rev. Wm., poem, 91
"By the Fire-side," 170
Carducci, Contessa, 71
Carlyle, Thomas and Jane, 30, 38, 39, 41, 61, 68, 97, 129, 130, 131
Casa Alvisi, 242, 243, 274
"Casa Guidi Windows," 106, 115, 116
"Catarina to Camoens," 71, 83
Chaucer, project to modernize, 603
"Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," 152, 261
"Child's Grave at Florence, A," 121
Chorley, Henry, 39, 40, 147
"Christmas Eve and Easter Day," 110, 119, 123, 124, 125
"Christopher Smart," 237
Clarke, Mary Graham. See Barrett, Mrs.
"Clasped Hands, The," 153
Coddington, Fanny, 260
"Colombe's Birthday," 27, 38, 143
"Confessions," 46, 83, 84
Cook, Mrs. Surtees. See Barrett, Henrietta
Corson, Dr. Hiram, criticism of Browning's poetry, 29, 218; visit to Browning, 35, 222, 244, 245-247, 290-291; founder of Browning Society, 240-241; letters from Browning, 247, 259; 215
Cosimo I, statue of, 114
"Cowper's Grave," 46, 57
Coxhoe Hall, 16
Cranch, Christopher Pearse, 111
Crosse, Andrew, 58, 59
"Crowned and Wedded," 46
"Cry of the Children, The," 46
"Curse for a Nation, A," 186
Curtis, George William, 118, 119
Cushman, Charlotte, 40, 141
"Dead Pan, The," 47, 68, 83
"Deaf and Dumb," 205
"Death in the Desert, A," 205, 237
"Denial, A," 84
"De Profundis," 18, 52, 136
Dickens, Charles, 30, 33, 59, 61, 69
Dilke, Mr., 64
Domett, Alfred, friendship for Browning, 14, 39, 228; Browning's letters to, 42, 43; Arnould's letters to, 69, 94, 99, 103
Dowden, Dr. Edward, 97, 133
Dowson, Christopher, 39
"Drama of Exile, A," 46, 71-72
"Dramatic Idyls," 236
"Dramatis Personae," 203-205
"Dryope," statue of, 263
Dulwich Gallery, 11
Eastnor Castle, 22
Egerton-Smith, Miss, 233-234
Elgin, Lady, 131, 132, 167
Eliot, George, 190
"Englishman in Italy, The," 71
"Epistle of Karnish," 158
"Essay on Mind," 22
"Eurydice to Orpheus," 265
"Evelyn Hope," 120
"Face, A," 205
Faucit, Helen (Lady Martin), 70, 143
"Ferishtah's Fancies," 244
Field, Kate, Browning gives locket, 154; visit to the Brownings, 182; Browning's letters to, 183, 186, 208; Mrs. Browning's letter to, 187
"Flight of the Duchess, The," 80, 152
Forster, John, criticism of "Paracelsus," 30; friendship for Browning, 31, 32, 129; 33, 39, 69
Fox, Rev. William Johnson, 30, 140, 141
"Fra Lippo Lippi," 152, 169-170
Franceschini, tragedy of, 181
Fuller, Margaret. See D'Ossoli, Marchesa
Furnivall, Dr., 240
Garrow, Theodosia. See Trollope
Giorgi, Signor, 217
"Gold Hair," 204
Gosse, Edmund, 97, 281
"Grammarian's Burial, A," 152
"Greek Christian Poets, The," 23, 65, 206
Griffin, Professor Hall, 27, 118, 134
"Guardian Angel, The," 103, 152
Gurney, Rev. Archer, 38
"Half Rome," 218
Haworth, Fanny, letter from Browning, 36; 40
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 150, 178-179
"Hector in the Garden," 47
"Helen's Tower," 222
"Herve Riel," 211
Hillard, George Stillman, 106, 118
Hodell, Dr. Charles W., 215-216
Holmes, Dr. Oliver Wendell, 48
"Holy Cross Day," 158
Hope End, 16, 19, 22, 24
Horne, Richard Hengist, letter from Elizabeth Barrett, 19, 59; friendship with Miss Barrett, 30, 53, 60, 61, 62, 65, 68
Hosmer, Harriet, takes cast of "Clasped Hands," 153; excursion with Brownings, 156, 157; letter from Browning, 168; visits poets, 191, 194
"How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix," 35
"In a Balcony," 144, 158, 203
"In a Gondola," 36
"Incondita," 14, 140
"Inn Album," 232, 269
"Insufficiency," 47, 84
"In the Doorway," 207
"Isabel's Child," 46, 57
Italy, political conditions of, 105, 108, 115, 117, 121, 143, 180
"Ivan Ivanovitch," 27, 236
James, Henry, characterization of Browning, 224
"James Lee's Wife," 204, 261
Jameson, Mrs., friendship with Miss Barrett, 73, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 129; letter from Browning, 108
Jerrold, Douglas, 41
Jowett, Dr., 209, 229, 281
Kemble, Mrs. Fanny, 129, 138, 153, 154, 155
Kenyon, John, 33; meets Browning, 40; offers an introduction to Miss Barrett, 41; 45; visit to Rydal Mount, 56; account of, 58, 59; termed the "joy-giver," 65; shows manuscript of "Dead Pan" to Browning, 68; dedication of "Paracelsus" to, 69; appreciation of, 74; letters to the Brownings, 74, 97; friendship, 112, 113, 129, 137; dedication of "Aurora Leigh" to, 174; death and legacy to Brownings, 176
Kingsley, Charles, 139
King Victor and King Charles, 69
Kinney, Mrs., 144, 145
"Lady and the Painter, The," 288
"Lady Geraldine's Courtship," 71, 72, 73
"Lament for Adonis," 23
Landor, Walter Savage, chirography of, 23; meets Browning, 30; courtesy of, 32; meets Miss Barrett, 55, 59, 137; quoted, 60; intimacy with Leigh Hunt, 112, 113; opinions, 138; guest of Brownings, 182; homage from Browning, 183; guest of Storys, 183, 184, 190, 192
"La Saisiaz," 233-234
"Last Poems," 202
"La Torre all' Antella," 264, 295
"La Valliere," 33
Leighton, Sir Frederic, 200
"Les Charmettes," 238
"Lost Leader, The," 32
"Loved Once," 83, 84
Lowell, James Russell, 51, 74
Lytton, Bulwer, 33, 53, 60
——, Lord (Owen Meredith), 142; entertains Mrs. Browning, 145-146; visits the Brownings, 149, 150, 158
Macready, William, meeting with Browning, 30, 31; suggests playwriting to Browning, 32; sees "Strafford," 33; produces "Strafford," 34; dinner to Browning, 39; produces "A Blot in the 'Scutcheon," 69, 70
Marcello, Contessa, 276
Martineau, Harriet, friendship with Brownings, 33, 35, 39, 60, 62, 68
Masson, Professor, Browning entertained by, 249-251
Mazzini, 13, 143
Medici, Marchesa Peruzzi di, birthday fete, 184; reminiscences of, 188, 193; visit to Scotland, 221; villa of, 239; translation of Dupre's Autobiography, 257; Browning's letter to, 257; Florentine palace of, 265
Medici, statue of Fernandino di, 173
"Meeting at Night," 120
"Men and Women," 106, 157, 164, 169, 172
Millais, Lady, 240
——, Sir John Everett, Browning's letter to, 227-228; 251
Milnes, Monckton (Lord Houghton), 30, 60, 61, 138; christening party, 139
Milsand, Joseph, meeting with Browning, 134; paper on Browning, 135; letter from Browning, 152, 225; friendship with Brownings, 159, 224, 225, 226; criticism of "Aurora Leigh," 176; death, 259; portrait, 263
Mitford, Mary Russell, 32; association with the Brownings, 32, 45, 55, 56, 58, 61, 65, 72; letter from Mrs. Browning, 108, 118, 135, 136, 159; death, 173
Mohl, Mme., 132, 167, 171
Moore, Mrs. Bloomfield, 252
Moulton-Barrett, Elizabeth (niece), 18
——. See Barrett, explanation of name, 17
Nancioni, il Signor Dottore, 245
Nettleship, Mr., essays on Browning, 213
"New Spirit of the Age, The," 60, 68
Nightingale, Florence, 140
"Old Yellow Book, The," 215
"One Word More," 123, 168-169, 205
Ongaro, Dall', 194
"Only a Cure," 121
Ossoli, Marchesa d' (Margaret Fuller), 111, 112; visits the Brownings, 118; death, 112, 126
"Other Half Rome, The," 218
Page, William, 152, 155, 181
Palazzo Giustiniani, 242
—— Peruzzi, 265
—— Pitti, 102, 105, 106
—— Rezzonico, 262-264, 290, 293, 295
"Paracelsus," 14, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 34, 36, 37, 39, 57, 69, 168, 237
"Parting at Morning," 120
Patmore, Coventry, 140
"Pauline," 12, 14, 15, 28, 34, 57, 169, 172, 267
"Penini." See Browning, Robert Barrett
"Pippa Passes," 36, 65, 67, 69, 271, 286-287
Pius IX (Pio Nono), 105, 115, 117, 118, 121
Poe, Edgar Allan, 52
"Poems before Congress," 185
"Poet's Vow, The," 53, 55, 57
"Pompilia," 206, 218, 219
"Portrait, A," 18, 164
Powers, Hiram, 102, 112, 118, 142
Prince of Wales (Edward VII), 180-181
Proctor ("Barry Cornwall"), 30, 33, 40, 61, 69, 129
"Prometheus Bound," 23, 25, 44
"Proof and Disproof," 84
"Prospice," 123, 205
"Question and Answer," 84
"Rabbi Ben Ezra," 205
"Recollections of a Literary Life," 135
"Red Cotton Night-cap Country," 226, 230
"Return of the Druses, The," 69
"Rhapsody of Life's Progress, A," 47, 48, 83
"Rhyme of the Duchess May, The," 227
"Ring and the Book, The," 182, 203, 205, 214-220
Ripert-Monclar, Marquis Amedee de, 28, 38, 153
Ritchie, Lady, 153, 154, 226
Robertson, John, 35, 39
Rogers, Arthur, 273
"Romances and Lyrics," 67
"Romaunt of Margret, The," 53, 58
Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, 139, 165, 166, 169, 174
Sand, George, 131, 136
"Saul," 120, 157
Scotti, Signor, 71
"Seraphim, The," 46, 56, 58, 110
Sharp, William, quoted, 6; suggested origin of "Flight of the Duchess," 12; quoted, 28; description of Browning, 31; 43
Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 13, 133, 134
Silverthorne, Mrs., 14
"Sleep, The," 46, 83
Smith, Alexander, 151
Smith, George Murray, 247, 270, 296
"Sonnets from the Portuguese," 50, 71, 97, 108, 109, 110, 123, 168
"Sordello," 14, 27, 28, 35, 41-42, 69, 171, 207, 237
"Soul's Tragedy, A," 69
"Statue and the Bust, The," 152, 173
Stedman, Edmund Clarence, 90
Story, Edith. See Medici, Marchessa Peruzzi di
——, William Wetmore and Emeline, Browning's first meeting, 107, 111; characteristics, 118, 119; associations with the Brownings, 148-152, 155, 184, 185, 192, 196, 197, 199, 221, 239; entertain Landor, 183; characterization of Hawthorne, 150; last meeting with Browning, 289-290
"Strafford," 33, 34, 35, 57
Talfourd, Field, 39
Talfourd, Sergeant, 30, 32, 40, 60, 69
Taylor, Bayard, 129
Tennyson, Alfred, 15; comment on "Sordello," 41; 60; works, 56, 68; Miss Barrett's comments on, 61, 67, 120; becomes Laureate, 122; letter to Mrs. Browning, 139, 140; reads "Maud" to the poets, 165; letters from Browning, 209, 230, 284; friendship with Browning, 231; dedication, 213; regarding Browning's lines, 232
——, Frederick, 144, 158
——, Hallam, 296
"Tertium Quid," 218
Thackeray, Anne. See Ritchie, Lady
Ticknor and Fields, 156
Tittle, Margaret, 4
"Toccata of Galuppi's, A," 120
Trollope, Thomas Adolphus and Theodosia, 59, 111, 112, 190, 229
"Two Poets of Croisic," 236
"Valediction, A," 84
Vallombrosa, 98, 99
Villari, Mme. Pasquale, 112
"Virgin Mary to the Child Jesus, The," 46
"Vision of Poets, A," 71
Wiedemann, Sarah Anna, 4-6
"Wine of Cyprus," 23, 86
"Woman's Last Word, A," 120
Wordsworth, William, 30, 32, 55, 56, 59, 68, 94
Zampini, Fanny (Contessa Salazar), 161
 Letters of Robert Browning and Alfred Domett. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co.
 Life of Robert Browning. London: Walter Scott, Limited.
 La Vie et l'oeuvre de Elizabeth Browning, par Germaine-Marie Merlette; Licencie des lettres; Docteur de l'Universite de Paris.
 Red Letter Days of my Life. London: Richard Bentley and Son.
 "Letters of Robert Browning and Alfred Domett." New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company.
 Robert Browning: Life and Letters. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, and Company.
 "La Vita e le Opere di Roberto et Elisabetta Barrett Browning. Rome: Societa Typografico-Editrice Nazionale."
 William Wetmore Story and his Friends. Boston: The Houghton-Mifflin Co.
 Life and Letters of Benjamin Jowett. London: John Murray.
 Alfred Lord Tennyson. London and New York: The Macmillan Co.
 Life of Phillips Brooks. New York: E. P. Dutton and Co.
 Records of Tennyson, Ruskin, and Browning. London: The Macmillan Company.
 Life and Letters of Sir John Millais. London: Methuen and Co.
 What I Remember. New York: Harper and Brothers.
 Alfred Lord Tennyson. London and New York: The Macmillan Company.
 William Wetmore Story. Boston: The Houghton-Mifflin Company.
 Alfred Lord Tennyson. London and New York: The Macmillan Co.
* * * * *
Text in italics is enclosed between underscores (italics).
Additional spacing after some of the quotes is intentional to indicate both the end of a quotation and the beginning of a new paragraph as presented in the original text.
Images have been moved from the middle of a paragraph to the closest paragraph break.
The original text includes Greek characters. For this text version these letters have been replaced with transliterations.
The following misprints have been corrected: "bythe" to "by the" (page 39) "twentienth" to "twentieth" (page 142) "Personae" corrected to "Personae" (page 203) "to to" corrected to "to" (page 214) "Personae" corrected to "Personae" (page 232) "writen" corrected to "written" (page 272) "Edinburg" corrected to "Edinburgh" (index) "Fireside" corrected to "Fire-side" (index)
Some quotes are opened with marks but are not closed. Obvious errors have been silently closed, while those requiring interpretation have been left open.
Other than the corrections listed above, printer's inconsistencies in spelling, punctuation, hyphenation, and ligature usage have been retained.