Infomotions, Inc.The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Volume II / Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861



Author: Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 1806-1861
Title: The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Volume II
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): florence; robert; dearest; rome; miss mitford; paris; dearest sarianna; italy; napoleon
Contributor(s): Kenyon, Frederic G., 1863-1952 [Editor]
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Size: 154,567 words (average) Grade range: 9-11 (high school) Readability score: 64 (easy)
Identifier: etext16646
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Title: The Letters of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Volume II

Author: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Editor: Frederic G. Kenyon

Release Date: September 4, 2005 [EBook #16646]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE LETTERS OF ELIZABETH ***




Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Lisa Reigel and the Online
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[Transcriber's Notes: The letter "o" with a macron is indicated as [=o]
in this text. The oe ligature has been replaced with the letters "oe".
The original text had the word "Madame" written two ways: "Mad" followed
by superscripted "me" and "Ma" followed by superscripted "dme". All have
been rendered as Madme.]

[Illustration: _Robert Browning._
Rome 1854.
_From an Oil Painting by W. Fisher._]




THE LETTERS
OF
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING

EDITED WITH BIOGRAPHICAL ADDITIONS

BY
FREDERIC G. KENYON

_WITH PORTRAITS_

IN TWO VOLUMES

VOLUME II.

_THIRD EDITION_

LONDON

SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE
1898




CONTENTS
OF
THE SECOND VOLUME

       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER VII

1851-1852

'Casa Guidi Windows'--Venice--Milan--Paris--London--Winter in Paris--The
Coup d'Etat--Louis Napoleon--Miss Mitford's 'Recollections'--George
Sand--Miss Mulock--Summer in England, 1


CHAPTER VIII

1852-1855

Return to Florence--Spiritualism--Robert Lytton--Bagni di
Lucca--Florence--Rome--Florence--The Crimean War--Death of Miss
Mitford, 91


CHAPTER IX

1855-1859

Visit to England--Tennyson's 'Maud'--Winter in Paris--Mr. Ruskin--Last
Visit to England--'Aurora Leigh'--Death of Mr. Kenyon--Return to
Florence--Carnival--Death of Mr. Barrett--Bagni di Lucca--Illness of
Lytton--Paris--Havre--Paris--Florence--Rome, 205


CHAPTER X

1859-1860

The Franco-Austrian War--Napoleon and
Italy--Villafranca--Florence--Siena--Italian Politics and
England--Landor--Florence--Rome, 305


CHAPTER XI

1860-1861

'Poems before Congress'--Napoleon and Savoy--France, Italy, and
England--Florence--Death of Mrs. Surtees Cook--Garibaldi--Rome--The
'Cornhill Magazine' and Thackeray--Increasing Weakness--Death of Mrs.
Browning, 363


INDEX, 455

PORTRAIT OF ROBERT BROWNING, ROME 1854, _Frontispiece_

FACSIMILE OF LETTER TO THE EMPEROR NAPOLEON, _to face p. 262_




THE LETTERS

OF

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING

       *       *       *       *       *




CHAPTER VII

1851-1852


Since they first settled in Florence the Brownings had made no long or
distant expeditions from their new home. Their summer excursions to
Vallombrosa, Lucca, or Siena had been of the nature of short holidays,
and had not taken them beyond the limits of Tuscany. Now they had
planned a far wider series of travels, which, beginning with Rome,
Naples, Venice, and Milan, should then be extended across the Alps, and
comprehend Brussels, Paris, and ultimately London. This ambitious
programme had to be curtailed by the omission of the southern tour to
Rome and Naples, as well as the digression to Brussels, but the rest of
the scheme was carried out, and about the beginning of June they left
Casa Guidi for an absence which extended over seventeen months.

The holiday had been well earned, especially by Mrs. Browning, who,
since the preparation of the new edition of her poems in the previous
year, had been writing the second part of 'Casa Guidi Windows.' It is
probably to this poem that she refers in the letter to Miss Browning
printed at the end of the last chapter, Miss Browning having on more
than one occasion helped both her brother and her sister-in-law in the
task of passing their poems through the press. The book appeared in
June, just as they were starting on their travels, and probably for this
reason we hear less in the letters of its reception. It was hardly to be
expected that the English public would take a very keen interest in a
poem dealing almost entirely with Italian politics, and half of it with
the politics of three years ago. Either in 1849 or in 1859 the interest
would have been livelier; but Italy was passing now through the valley
of the shadow, and, save for the horrors of the Neapolitan prisons, was
not much before the public for the moment. The intrigues of Louis
Napoleon and the ostentatious aggression of the Pope in England were the
matters of most interest in foreign politics, and both were overshadowed
by the absorbing topic of the Great Exhibition.

Another reason why 'Casa Guidi Windows' has received less appreciation
than it deserves, both at the time of its publication and since, is that
it stands rather apart from all the recognised species of poetry, and is
hard to classify and criticise. Its political and contemporary character
cut it off from the imaginative and historical subjects which form in
general the matter of poetry, while its genuinely poetic emotion and
language separate it from the political pamphlet or the occasional
verse. It is a poetic treatment of a political subject raised to a high
level by the genuine enthusiasm and fire with which it is inspired, and
these give it a value which lasts far beyond the moment of the events
which gave it birth. The execution, too, shows an advance on most of
Mrs. Browning's previous work. The dangerous experiments in rhyming
which characterised many of the poems in the volumes of 1844 are
abandoned; the licences of language are less frequent; the verse runs
smoothly and is more uniformly under command. It would appear as if the
heat of inspiration which produced the 'Sonnets from the Portuguese'
had left a permanent and purifying effect upon her style. The poem has
been neglected by those who take little interest in Italy and its
history, and adversely criticised by those who do not sympathise with
its political and religious opinions; but with those who look only to
its poetry and to its warm-hearted championship of a great cause, it
will always hold a high place of its own among Mrs. Browning's writings.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

Florence: May 1, [1851].

I am writing to you, dearest Miss Blagden, at last, you see; though you
must have excommunicated me before now as the most ungrateful of
correspondents and friends. Do forgive what you can--and your kindness
is so great that I believe you can, and shall go on to write as if you
did. We have been in the extremity of confusion and indecision. Remember
how the fairy princes used to do when they arrived at the meeting of
three roads, and had to consider what choice to make. How they used to
shake their heads and ponder, and end sometimes by drawing lots! Much in
the like perplexity have we been. Everything was ready for Rome--the day
fixed, the packing begun, the vettura bargained for. Suddenly, visions
of obstacles rose up. We were late in the season. We should be late for
the festas. May would be hot in Rome for Wiedeman. Then two journeys,
north and south, to Rome and Naples, besides Paris and England, pulled
fearfully at the purse-strings. Plainly we couldn't afford it. So
everything was stopped and changed. We gave up Rome and you, and are now
actually on the point of setting out for Venice; Venice is to console us
for Rome. We go to-morrow, indeed. The plan is to stay a fortnight at
Venice (or more or less, as the charm works), and then to strike across
to Milan; across the Spluegen into Switzerland, and to linger there among
the hills and lakes for a part of the summer, so working out an
intention of economy; then down the Rhine; then by railroad to Brussels;
so to Paris, settling there; after which we pay our visit to England for
a few weeks. Early next spring we mean to go to Rome and return here,
either _for good_ (which is very possible) or for the purpose of
arranging our house affairs and packing up books and furniture. As it
is, we have our apartment for another year, and shall let it if we can.
It has been painted, cleaned, and improved in all ways, till my head and
Robert's ring again with the confusion of it all. Oh that we were gone,
since we are to go! When out of sight of Florence, we shall begin to
enjoy, I hope, the sight of other things, but as it is the impression is
only painful and dizzying. Our friends Mr. and Mrs. Ogilvy go with us as
far as Venice, and then leave us on a direct course for England, having
committed their children and nurses to the care of her sister at the
Baths of Lucca meantime. We take with us only Wilson.

Do write to me at Venice, Poste Restante, that I may know you are
thinking of me and excusing me kindly. If you knew how uncertain and
tormented we have been. I won't even ask Robert to add a line to this,
he is so overwhelmed with a flood of businesses; but he bids me speak to
you of him as affectionately and faithfully (because affectionately) as
I have reason to do. So kind it was in you to think of taking the
trouble of finding us an apartment! So really sensible we are to all
your warm-hearted goodness, with fullness of heart on our side too. And,
after all, we are not parting! Either we shall find you in Italy again,
or you will find us in Paris. I have a presentimental assurance of
finding one another again before long. Remember us and love us meantime.

As to your spiritual visitor--why, it would be hard to make out a system
of Romish doctrine from the most Romish version of the S.S.[1] The
differences between the Protestant version and the Papistical are not
certainly justifiable by the Greek original, on the side of the latter.
In fact, the Papistical version does not pretend to follow the Greek
text, but a Latin translation of the same--it's a translation from a
translation. Granting it, however, to be faithful, I must repeat that to
make out the Romish system from even _such_ a Romish version could not
be achieved. So little does Scripture (however represented) seem to me
to justify that system of ecclesiastical doctrine and discipline. I
answer your question because you bid me, but I am not a bit frightened
at the idea of your becoming a R.C., however you may try to frighten me.
You have too much intelligence and uprightness of intellect. We do hope
you have enjoyed Rome, and that dearest Miss Agassiz (give our kind love
to her) is better and looks better than we all thought her a little
while ago. I have a book coming out in England called 'Casa Guidi
Windows,' which will prevent everybody else (except you) from speaking
to me again. Do love me always, as I shall you. Forgive me, and _don't_
forget me. I shall try, after a space of calm, to behave better to you,
and more after my _heart_--for I am ever (as Robert is)

Your faithfully affectionate friend,
ELIZABETH B. BROWNING.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

Venice: June 4, [1851].

My ever dearest Miss Mitford,--I must write to you from Venice, though
it can only be a few lines. So much I have to say and _feel_ in writing
to you, and thinking that you were not well when you wrote last to me, I
long to hear from you--and yet I can't tell you to-day where a letter
will find me. We are wanderers on the face of the world just now, and
with every desire of going straight from Venice to Milan to-morrow
(Friday) week, we shall more probably, at the Baths of Recoaro, be
lingering and lingering. Therefore will you write to the care of Miss
Browning, New Cross, Hatcham, near London? for so I shall not lose your
letter. I have been between heaven and earth since our arrival at
Venice. The heaven of it is ineffable. Never had I touched the skirts of
so celestial a place. The beauty of the architecture, the silver trails
of water up between all that gorgeous colour and carving, the enchanting
silence, the moonlight, the music, the gondolas--I mix it all up
together, and maintain that nothing is like it, nothing equal to it, not
a second Venice in the world. Do you know, when I came first I felt as
if I never could go away. But now comes the earth side. Robert, after
sharing the ecstasy, grows uncomfortable, and nervous, and unable to eat
or sleep; and poor Wilson, still worse, in a miserable condition of
continual sickness and headache. Alas for these mortal Venices--so
exquisite and so bilious! Therefore I am constrained away from my joys
by sympathy, and am forced to be glad that we are going off on Friday.
For myself, it does not affect me at all. I like these moist, soft,
relaxing climates; even the scirocco doesn't touch me much. And the baby
grows gloriously fatter in spite of everything.

No, indeed and indeed, we are not going to England for the sake of the
Exposition. How could you fancy such a thing, even once. In any case we
shall not reach London till late, and if by any arrangement I could see
my sister Arabel in France or on the coast of England, we would persuade
Robert's family to meet us there, and not see London at all. Ah, if you
knew how abhorrent the thought of England is to _me_! Well, we must not
talk of it. My eyes shut suddenly when my thoughts go that way.

Tell me exactly how you are. I heartily rejoice that you have decided
at last about the other house, so as to avoid the danger of another
autumn and winter in the damp. Do you write still for Mr. Chorley's
periodical, and how does it go on? Here in Italy the fame of it does not
penetrate. As for Venice, you can't get even a 'Times,' much less an
'Athenaeum.' We comfort ourselves by taking a box at the opera (the whole
box on the ground tier, mind) for two shillings and eightpence English.
Also, every evening at half-past eight, Robert and I are sitting under
the moon in the great piazza of St. Mark, taking excellent coffee and
reading the French papers. Can you fancy me so?

You will receive a copy of my new poem, 'Casa Guidi Windows,' soon after
this note. I have asked Sarianna Browning to see that you receive it
safely. I don't give away copies (having none to give away, according to
booksellers' terms), but I can't let you receive my little book from
another hand than the writer's. Tell me how you like the poem--honestly,
truly--which numbers of people will be sure to dislike profoundly and
angrily, perhaps. We think of going to Recoaro because Mr. Chorley
praised it to us years ago. Tell him so if you write.

Here are a heap of words tossed down upon paper. I can't put the stops
even. Do write _about yourself_, not waiting for the book.

Your ever attached
E.B.B.

At Paris how near we shall be! How sure to meet. Have you been to the
Exposition yourself? Tell me. And what is the general feeling _now_?

       *       *       *       *       *


_To John Kenyon_

Paris: July 7, [1851].

My dearest Mr. Kenyon,--I have waited day after day during this week
that we have been here, to be able to tell you that we have decided this
or that--but the indecision lasts, and I can't let you hear from others
of our being in Paris when you have a right more than anybody almost to
hear all about us. I wanted to write to you, indeed, from Venice, where
we stayed a month, and much the same reason made me leave it undone, as
we were making and unmaking plans the whole time, and we didn't know
till the last few hours, for instance, whether or not we should go to
Milan. Venice is quite exquisite; it wrapt me round with a spell at
first sight, and I longed to live and die there--never to go away. The
gondolas, and the glory they swim through, and the silence of the
population, drifted over one's head across the bridges, and the
fantastic architecture and the coffee-drinking and music in the Piazza
San Marco, everything fitted into my lazy, idle nature and weakness of
body, as if I had been born to the manner of it and to no other. Do you
know I expected in Venice a dreary sort of desolation? Whereas there was
nothing melancholy at all, only a soothing, lulling, rocking atmosphere
which if Armida had lived in a city rather than in a garden would have
suited her purpose. Indeed Taglioni seems to be resting her feet from
dancing, there, with a peculiar zest, inasmuch as she has bought three
or four of the most beautiful palaces. How could she do better? And one
or two ex-kings and queens (of the more vulgar royalties) have wrapt
themselves round with those shining waters to forget the purple--or
dream of it, as the case may be. Robert and I led a true Venetian life,
I assure you; we 'swam in gondolas' to the Lido and everywhere else, we
went to a festa at Chioggia in the steamer (frightening Wilson by being
kept out by the wind till two o'clock in the morning), we went to the
opera and the play (at a shilling each, or not as much!), and we took
coffee every evening on St. Mark's Piazza, to music and the stars.
Altogether it would have been perfect, only what's perfect in the world?
While I grew fat, Wilson grew thin, and Robert could not sleep at
nights. The air was too relaxing or soft or something for them both, and
poor Wilson declares that another month of Venice would have killed her
outright. Certainly she looked dreadfully ill and could eat nothing. So
I was forced to be glad to go away, out of pure humanity and sympathy,
though I keep saying softly to myself ever since, 'What is there on
earth like Venice?'

Then, we slept at Padua on St. Anthony's night (more's the pity for us:
they made us pay sixteen zwanzigers for it!), and Robert and I, leaving
Wiedeman at the inn, took a caleche and drove over to Arqua, which I had
set my heart on seeing for Petrarch's sake. Did you ever see it, _you_?
And didn't it move you, the sight of that little room where the great
soul exhaled itself? Even Robert's man's eyes had tears in them as we
stood there, and looked through the window at the green-peaked hills.
And, do you know, I believe in 'the cat.'

Through Brescia we passed by moonlight (such a flood of white moonlight)
and got into Milan in the morning. There we stayed two days, and I
climbed to the topmost pinnacle of the cathedral; wonder at me! Indeed I
was rather overtired, it must be confessed--three hundred and fifty
steps--but the sight was worth everything, enough to light up one's
memory for ever. How glorious that cathedral is! worthy almost of
standing face to face with the snow Alps; and itself a sort of snow
dream by an artist architect, taken asleep in a glacier! Then the Da
Vinci Christ did not disappoint us, which is saying much. It is divine.
And the Lombard school generally was delightful after Bologna and those
soulless Caracci! I have even given up Guido, and Guercino too, since
knowing more of them. Correggio, on the other hand, is sublime at Parma;
he is wonderful! besides having the sense to make his little Christs and
angels after the very likeness of my baby.

From Milan we moved to Como, steamed down to Menaggio (opposite to
Bellaggio), took a caleche to Porlezza, and a boat to Lugano, another
caleche to Bellinzona, left Wiedeman there, and, returning on our steps,
steamed down and up again the Lago Maggiore, went from Bellinzona to
Faido and slept, and crossed the Mount St. Gothard the next day,
catching the Lucerne steamer at Fluellen. The scenery everywhere was
most exquisite, but of the great _pass_ I shall say nothing--it was like
standing in the presence of God when He is terrible. The tears
overflowed my eyes. I think I never _saw_ the sublime before. Do you
know I sate out in the coupe a part of the way with Robert so as to
apprehend the whole sight better, with a thick shawl over my head, only
letting out the eyes to see. They told us there was more snow than is
customary at this time of year, and it well might be so, for the passage
through it, cut for the carriage, left the snow-walls nodding over us at
a great height on each side, and the cold was intense.

Do you know we might yield the palm, and that Lucerne is far finer than
any of our Italian lakes? Even Robert had to confess it at once. I
wanted to stay in Switzerland, but we found it wiser to hasten our steps
and come to Paris; so we came. Yes, and we travelled from Strasburg to
Paris in four-and-twenty hours, night and day, never stopping except for
a quarter of an hour's breakfast and half an hour's dinner. So afraid I
was of the fatigue for Wiedeman! But between the unfinished railroad and
the diligence, there's a complication of risks of losing places just
now, and we were forced to go the whole way in a breath or to hazard
being three or four days on the road. So we took the coupe and resigned
ourselves, and poor little babe slept at night and laughed in the day,
and came into Paris as fresh in spirit as if just alighted from the
morning star, screaming out with delight at the shops! Think of that
child! Upon the whole he has enjoyed our journey as much as any one of
us, observing and admiring; though Robert and Wilson will have it that
some of his admiration of the _scenery_ we passed through was pure
affectation and acted out to copy ours. He cried out, clasping his
hands, that the mountains were 'due'--meaning a great number. His love
of beautiful buildings, of churches especially, no one can doubt about.
When first he saw St. Mark's, he threw up his arms in wonder, and then,
clasping them round Wilson's neck (she was carrying him), he kissed her
in an ecstasy of joy. And that was after a long day's journey, when most
other children would have been tired and fretful. But the sense of the
beautiful is certainly very strong in him, little darling. He can't say
the word 'church' yet, but when he sees one he begins to chant. Oh, he's
a true Florentine in some things.

Well, now we are in Paris and have to forget the 'belle chiese;' we have
beautiful shops instead, false teeth grinning at the corners of the
streets, and disreputable prints, and fascinating hats and caps, and
brilliant restaurants, and M. le President in a cocked hat and with a
train of cavalry, passing like a rocket along the boulevards to an
occasional yell from the Red. Oh yes, and don't mistake me! for I like
it all extremely, it's a splendid city--a city in the country, as Venice
is a city in the sea. And I'm as much amused as Wiedeman, who stands in
the street before the printshops (to Wilson's great discomfort) and
roars at the lions. And I admire the bright green trees and gardens
everywhere in the heart of the town. Surely it is a most beautiful city!
And I like the restaurants more than is reasonable; dining _a la carte_,
and mixing up one's dinner with heaps of newspapers, and the 'solution'
by Emile de Girardin, who suggests that the next President should be a
tailor. Moreover, we find apartments very cheap in comparison to what we
feared, and we are in a comfortable quiet hotel, where it is possible,
and not ruinous, to wait and look about one.

As to England--oh England--how I dread to think of it. We talk of going
over for a short time, but have not decided when; yet it will be soon
perhaps--it may. If it were not for my precious Arabel, I would not go;
because Robert's family would come to him here, they say. But to give up
Arabel is impossible. Henrietta is in Somersetshire; it is uncertain
whether I shall see her, even in going, and she too might come to Paris
this winter. And you will come--you promised, I think?...

I feel here _near enough_ to England, that's the truth. I recoil from
the bitterness of being nearer. Still, it must be thought of.

Dearest cousin, dearest friend, in all this pleasant journey we have
borne you in mind, and gratefully! You must feel _that_ without being
told. I won't quite do like my Wiedeman, who every time he fires his gun
(if it's twenty times in five minutes) says, 'Papa, papa,' because
Robert gave him the gun, and the gratitude is as re-iterantly and loudly
explosive. But one's thoughts may say what they please and as often as
they please.

Arabel tells me that you are kind to the manner of my poem, though to
the matter obdurate. Miss Mitford, too, says that it won't receive the
sympathy proper to a home subject, because the English people don't care
anything for the Italians now; despising them for their want of
originality in _Art_! That's very good of the English people, really! I
fear much that dear Miss Mitford has suffered seriously from the effects
of the damp house last winter. What she says of herself makes me anxious
about her.

Give my true love to dear Miss Bayley, and say how I repent in ashes for
not having written to her. But she is large-hearted and will forgive me,
and I shall make amends and send her sheet upon sheet. Barry Cornwall's
letter to Robert, of course, delighted as well as honoured me. Does it
appear in the new edition of his 'songs' &c.?

Mind, if ever I go to England I shall have no heart to go out of a very
dark corner. I shall just see you and that's all. It's only Robert who
is a patriot now, of us two. England, what with the past and the
present, is a place of bitterness to me, bitter enough to turn all her
seas round to wormwood! Airs and hearts, all are against me in England;
yet don't let me be ungrateful. No love is forgotten or less prized,
certainly not yours. Only I'm a citizeness of the world now, you see,
and float loose.

God bless you, dearest Mr. Kenyon, prays

Your ever affectionate
BA.

Robert's best love as always. He writes by this post to Mr. Procter. How
beautifully Sarianna has corrected for the press my new poem!
Wonderfully well, really. There is only one error of consequence, which
I will ask you to correct in any copy you can--of 'rail' _in the last
line_, to 'vail;' the allusion being of course to the Jewish temple--but
as it is printed nobody can catch any meaning, I fear. They tell me that
the Puseyite organ, the 'Guardian,' has been strong in attack. So best.

       *       *       *       *       *


After a few weeks in Paris the travellers crossed over to England, which
they had not seen for nearly five years. Their visit to London lasted
about two months, from the end of July to the end of September, during
which time they stayed in lodgings at 26 Devonshire Street.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

26 Devonshire Street: Wednesday, [about August 1851].

My ever dearest Mrs. Martin,--I am not ungrateful after all, but I
wanted to write a long letter to you (having much to say), and even now
it is hard in this confusion to write a short one. We have been
overwhelmed with kindnesses, crushed with gifts, like the Roman lady;
and literally to drink through a cup of tea from beginning to end
without an interruption from the door-bell, we have scarcely attained to
since we came. For my part I refuse all dinner invitations except when
our dear friend Mr. Kenyon 'imposes himself as an exception,' in his
own words. But even in keeping the resolution there are necessary
fatigues; and, do you know, I have not been well since our arrival in
England. My first step ashore was into a puddle and a fog, and I began
to cough before we reached London. The quality of the air does _not_
agree with me, that's evident. For nearly five years I have had no such
cough nor difficulty of breathing, and my friends, who at first sight
thought me looking well, must forbear all compliments for the future, I
think, I get so much paler every day. Next week we send Wilson to see
her mother near Sheffield and _the baby with her_, which is a great
stroke of fortitude in me; only what I can't bear is to see him crying
because she is gone away. So we resolve on letting them both go
together. When she returns, ten days or a fortnight after, we shall have
to think of going to Paris again; indeed Robert begins to be nervous
about me--which is nonsense, but natural enough perhaps.

In regard to Colwall, you are both, my very dear friends, the kindest
that you can be. Ah, but dearest, dearest Mrs. Martin, you can
_understand_, with the same kindness that you use to me in other things.
There is only one event in my life which never loses its bitterness;
which comes back on me like a retreating wave, going and coming again,
which was and _is my grief--I never had but one brother who loved and
comprehended me_. And so there is just one thought which would be
unbearable if I went into your neighbourhood; and you won't set it down,
I am sure, as unpardonable weakness, much less as affectation, if I
confess to you that I _never could bear it_. The past would be too
strong for me. As to Hope End, it is nothing. I have been happier in my
own home since, than I was there and then. But Torquay has made the
neighbourhood of Hope End impossible to me. I could not eat or sleep in
that air. You will forgive me for the weakness, I am certain. You know a
little, if not entirely, how we loved one another; how I was first with
_him_, and _he_ with me; while God knows that death and separation have
no power over such love.

After all, we shall see you in Paris if not in England. We pass this
winter in Paris, in the hope of my being able to bear the climate, for
indeed Italy is too far. And if the winter does not disagree with me too
much we mean to take a house and settle in Paris, so as to be close to
you all, and that will be a great joy to me. You will pass through Paris
this autumn (won't you?) on your way to Pau, and I shall see you. I do
long to see you and make you know my husband....

So far from regretting my marriage, it has made the happiness and honour
of my life; and every unkindness received from my own house makes me
press nearer to the tenderest and noblest of human hearts _proved_ by
the uninterrupted devotion of nearly five years. Husband, lover,
nurse--not one of these, has Robert been to me, but all three together.
I neither regret my marriage, therefore, nor the manner of it, because
the manner of it was a necessity of the act. I thought so at the time, I
think so now; and I believe that the world in general will decide (if
the world is to be really appealed to) that my opinion upon this subject
(after five years) is worth more.

Dearest Mrs. Martin, do write to me. I keep my thoughts as far as I can
from bitter things, and the affectionateness of my dearest sisters is
indeed much on the other side. Also, we are both giddy with the kind
attentions pressed on us from every side, from some of the best in
England. It's hard to think at all in such a confusion. We met Tennyson
(the Laureate) by a chance in Paris, who insisted that we should take
possession of his house and servants at Twickenham and use them as long
as we liked to stay in England. Nothing could be more warmly kind, and
we accepted the note in which he gave us the right of possession for the
sake of the generous autograph, though we never intended in our own
minds to act out the proposition. Since then, Mr. Arnould, the Chancery
barrister, has begged us to go and live in his town house (we don't want
houses, you see); Mrs. Fanny Kemble called on and left us tickets for
her Shakespeare reading (by the way, I was charmed with her 'Hamlet');
Mr. Forster, of the 'Examiner,' gave us a magnificent dinner at Thames
Ditton in sight of the swans; and we breakfast on Saturday with Mr.
Rogers. Then we have seen the Literary Guild actors at the Hanover
Square rooms, and we have passed an evening with Carlyle (one of the
great sights in England, to my mind). He is a very warm friend of
Robert's, so that on every account I was delighted to see him face to
face. I can't tell you what else we have done or not done. It's a great
dazzling heap of things new and strange. Barry Cornwall (Mr. Procter)
came to see us every day till business swept him out of town, and dear
Mrs. Jameson left her Madonna for us in despite of the printers. Such
kindness, on all sides. Ah, there's kindness in England after all. Yet I
grew cold to the heart as I set foot on the ground of it, and wished
myself away. Also, the sort of life is not perhaps the best for me and
the sort of climate is really the worst.

You heard of Mr. Kenyon's goodness to us; I told Arabel to tell you.

But I must end here. Another time I will talk of Paris, which I do hope
will suit us as a residence. I was quite well there, the three weeks we
stayed, and am far from well just now. You see, the weight of the
atmosphere, which seems to me like lead, combined with the excitement,
is too much at once. Oh, it won't be very bad, I dare say. I mean to try
to be quiet, and abjure for the future the night air.

I should not omit to tell you in this quantity of egotism that my
husband's father and sister have received me most affectionately. She is
highly accomplished, with a heart to suit the head.

Now do write. Let me hear all about you, and how dear Mr. Martin and
yourself are. Robert's cordial regards with those of

Your ever affectionate and ever grateful
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

26 Devonshire Street: Saturday, [about August 1851].

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--Day by day, and hour by hour almost, I have
wanted to thank you again and again for your remedy (which I did not
use, by the bye, being much better), and to answer your inquiry about
me, which really I could not deliver over to Arabel to answer; but the
baby did not go to the country with Wilson, and I have been 'devoted'
since she went away; _une ame perdue_, with not an instant out of the
four-and-twenty hours to call my own. It appeared, at the last, that
Wilson would have a drawback to her enjoyments in having the child, and
I did not choose that: she had only a fortnight, you see, after five
years, to be with her family. So I took her place with him; it was
necessary, for he was in a state of deplorable grief when he missed her,
and has refused ever since to allow any human being except me to do a
single thing for him. I hold him in my arms at night, dress and wash him
in the morning, walk out with him, and am not allowed either to read or
write above three minutes at a time. He has learnt to say in English 'No
more,' and I am bound to be obedient. Perhaps I may make out five
minutes just to write this, for he is playing in the passage with a
child of the house, but even so much is doubtful. He has made very good
friends with a girl here, and Arabel has sent her maid ever so often to
tempt him away for half an hour, so as to give me breathing time, but he
won't be tempted: he has it in his head that the world is in a
conspiracy against him to take 'mama' away after having taken 'Lily,'
and he is bound to resist it.

After all, the place of nursery maid is more suitable to me than that of
poetess (or even poet's wife) in this obstreperous London. I was nearly
killed the first weeks, what with the climate, and what with the
kindness (and what with the want of kindness), and looked wretchedly,
whether Reynolds Peyton saw it or not, and coughed day and night, till
Robert took fright, and actually fixed a day for taking me forthwith
back to Paris. I had to give up a breakfast at Rogers', and shut myself
up in two rooms for a week, and refuse, like Wiedeman, to be tempted out
anywhere, but, after that, I grew better, and the wind changed, and now
the cough, though not gone, is quieted, and I look a different person,
and have ceased to grow thin. But a racketing life will never do for me,
nor an English atmosphere, I am much afraid. The lungs seem to labour in
this heavy air. Oh, it is so unlike the air of the Continent; I say
nothing of Florence, but even of Paris, where I do wish to be able to
live, on account of the nearness to this dear detestable England.

Now let me tell you of Wimpole Street. Henry has been very kind in
coming not infrequently; he has a kind, good heart. Occy, too, I have
seen three or four times, Alfred and Sette once. My dearest Arabel is,
of course, here once if not twice a day, and for hours at a time,
bringing me great joy always, and Henrietta's dear kindness in coming to
London on purpose to see me, for a week, has left a perfume in my life.
Both those beloved sisters have been, as ever, perfect to me. Arabel is
vexed just now, and so am I, my brothers having fixed with papa to go
out of town directly, and she caring more to stay where I am....

I have not written to papa since our arrival through my fear of
involving Arabel; but as soon as they go to the country I shall
_hopelessly_ write. He is very well and in good spirits, thank God.

We have spent two days at New Cross with my husband's father and sister,
and she has been here constantly. Most affectionate they are to me, and
the babe is taken into adoration by Mr. Browning.

But here he is upon me again! Indeed, I have had wonderful luck in
having been able to write all this; and now, God bless both of you, my
dearest friends. Oh, I do feel to my heart all your kindness in wishing
to have us with you, and, indeed, Robert _would_ like to see
Herefordshire, but--

[_The remainder of this letter is wanting_]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

26 Devonshire Street: Wednesday, [September 1851].

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--I write in haste to you to tell you some things
which you should hear without delay.

After Robert's letter to George had been sent three times to Wales and
been returned twice, it reached him, and immediately upon its reaching
him (to do George justice) he wrote a kind reply to apprise us that he
would be at our door the same evening. So the night before last he came,
and we are all good friends, thank God. I tenderly love him and the
rest, and must for ever deplore that such poor barriers as a pedantic
pride can set up should have interposed between long and strong and holy
affections for years. But it is past, and I have been very happy in
being held in his arms again, and seen in his eyes that I was still
something more to him than a stone thrown away. So, if you have thought
severely of him, you and dear Mr. Martin, do not any longer. Preserve
your friendship for him, my dearest friends, and let all this foolish
mistaken past be well past and forgotten. I think him looking thin,
though it does not strike them so in Wimpole Street, certainly.

For the rest, the pleasantness is not on every side. It seemed to me
right, notwithstanding that dear Mr. Kenyon advised against it, to
apprise my father of my being in England. I could not leave England
without trying the possibility of his seeing me once, of his consenting
to kiss my child once. So I wrote, and Robert wrote. A manly, true,
straightforward letter his was, yet in some parts so touching to me and
so generous and conciliating everywhere, that I could scarcely believe
in the probability of its being read in vain. In reply he had a very
violent and unsparing letter, with all the letters I had written to papa
through these five years _sent back unopened, the seals unbroken_. What
went most to my heart was that some of the seals were black with
black-edged envelopes; so that he might have thought my child or husband
dead, yet never cared to solve the doubt by breaking the seal. He said
he regretted to have been forced to keep them by him until now, through
his ignorance of where he should send them. So there's the end. I
cannot, of course, write again. God takes it all into His own hands, and
I wait.

We go on Tuesday. If I do not see you (as I scarcely hope to do now), it
will be only a gladness delayed for a few months. We shall meet in Paris
if we live. May God bless you both, dearest friends! I think of you and
love you. Dear Mr. Martin, don't stay too late in England this year, for
the climate seems to me worse than ever. Not that I have much cough
now--I am much better--but the quality of the atmosphere is unmistakable
to my lungs and air passages, and I believe it will be wise, on this
account, to go away quickly.

Your ever affectionate and grateful
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_[2]

London: September 24, 1851.

My dear Miss Haworth,--I do hope you have not set us quite on the
outside of your heart with the unfeeling and ungrateful. I say 'us' when
I ought to have said 'me,' for you have known Robert, and you have not
known _me_, and I am naturally less safe with you than he is--less safe
in your esteem. We should both have gone to inquire after your health if
he had not been attacked with influenza, and unfit for anything until
the days you mentioned as the probable term of your remaining in town
had passed. I waited till he should be better, and the malady lingered.
Now he is well, and I do hope you may be so too. May it be! Bear us in
mind and love, for we go away to-morrow to Paris--where, however, we
shall _expect_ you before long. Thank you, thank you, for the books. I
have been struck and charmed with some things in the
'Companion'--especially, may I say, with the 'Modern Pygmalion,' which
catches me on my weak side of the _love of wonder_. By the way, what am
I to say of Swedenborg and mesmerism? So much I could--the books have so
drawn and held me (as far as I was capable of being drawn or held, in
this chaos of London)--that I will not speak at all. The note-page is
too small--the haste I write in, too great.

God bless you, and good bye. Robert bids me give you his love (of the
earnestest), and I have leave from you (have I not?) to be always
affectionately yours,

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

       *       *       *       *       *


The journey to Paris was effected at the end of September, and for about
nine months they pitched their tent at No. 138 Avenue des
Champs-Elysees. It was a fortunate time to be in Paris for those who had
no personal nervousness, and liked to be near the scene of great
events--a most anxious time for any who were alarmed at disturbances, or
took keenly to heart the horrors of street fighting. Fortunately for the
Brownings, they, whether by temperament or through their Italian
experiences, were not unduly disturbed at revolutions, while the horrors
of Louis Napoleon's _coup d'etat_ were, no doubt, only partly known to
Mrs. Browning at the time, and were palliated to her by the view she
took of Napoleon's character. She had not, it is true, raised him as yet
to the pinnacle on which his intervention on behalf of Italy
subsequently caused her to place him, but (perhaps owing to what Mr.
Kenyon called her 'immoral sympathy with power') she was always disposed
to put a favourable construction on his actions, and the _coup d'etat_
was finally whitewashed for her by the approbation which the
_plebiscite_ of December 20 gave to his assumption of supreme power. Her
views are, however, so fully set forth in her own letters that they need
not be detailed here. For her husband's opinion of the character of
Louis Napoleon, at least as it appeared to him when looking back after
the lapse of years, it is only necessary to refer to 'Prince
Hohenstiel-Schwangau.'

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

[Paris,] 138 Avenue des Champs-Elysees:
October 21, [1851].

But didn't you, dearest friend, get 'Casa Guidi' and the portrait of
Madme de Goethe, left for you in the London house? I felt a _want_ of
leaving a word of adieu with these, and then the chaotic confusion in
which we left England stifled the better purpose out of me.

With such mixed feelings I went away. Leaving love behind is always
terrible, but it was not all love that I left, and there was relief in
the state of mind with which I threw myself on the sofa at Dieppe--yes,
indeed. Robert felt differently from me for once, as was natural, for it
had been pure joy to him with his family and his friends, and I do
believe he would have been capable of never leaving England again, had
such an arrangement been practicable for us on some accounts. Oh
England! I love and hate it at once. Or rather, where love of country
ought to be in the heart, there is the mark of the burning iron in mine,
and the depth of the scar shows the depth of the root of it. Well, I am
writing you an amusing letter to-day, I think. After all, I wasn't made
to live in England, or I should not cough there perpetually; while no
sooner do I get to Paris than the cough vanishes--it is all but gone
now. The lightness of the air here makes the place tenable--so far, at
least. We made many an effort to get an apartment near the Madeleine,
but we had to sacrifice sun or money, or breath, in going up to the top
of a house, and the sacrifice seemed too great upon consideration, and
we came off to the 'Avenue des Champs-Elysees,' on the sunshiny side of
the way, to a southern aspect, and pretty cheerful carpeted rooms--a
drawing room, a dressing and writing room for Robert, a small dining
room, two comfortable bedrooms and a third bedroom upstairs for the
_femme de service_, kitchen, &c., for two hundred francs a month. Not
too dear, we think. About the same that we paid, out of the season, in
London for the miserable accommodation we had there. But perhaps you
won't come near us now; we may be too much 'out of the way' for you. Is
it so indeed? Understand that close by us is a stand of _coupes_ and
_fiacres_, not to profane your ears with the mention of the continual
stream of omnibuses by means of which you may reach the other end of
Paris for six sous. And there might be a possibility of taking a small
apartment for you in this very house. See how I castle-build.

But if the Crystal Palace vanishes from the face of the earth, who shall
trust any more in castles? Will they really pull it down, do you think?
If it's a bubble, it's a glass bubble, and not meant, therefore, for
bursting in the air, it seems to me. And you do want a place in England
for sculpture, and also to show people how olives grow. What a beautiful
winter garden it would be! But they will pull it down, perhaps; and
then, the last we shall have seen of it will be in this description of
your letter, and _that's_ seeing it worthily, too.

We were from home last night; we went to Lady Elgin's reception, and met
a Madame Mohl, who was entertaining, and is to come to us this morning--

She came as I wrote those words. She knows _you_, among her other
advantages, and we have been talking of you, dear friend, and we are
going to her on Friday evening to see some of the French. I shall have
to go to prison very soon, I suppose, as usual, for the winter months,
for here is the twenty-first of October, though this is the first fire
we have had occasion for. It was colder this morning, but we have had
exquisite weather, really, ever since we left England.

The 'elf' is flourishing in all good fairyhood, with a scarlet rose leaf
on each cheek. Wilson says she never knew him to have such an
irreproachable appetite. He is charmed with Paris, and its magnificent
Punches, and roundabouts, and balloons--which last he says, looking up
after them gravely, 'go to God.' The child has curious ideas about
theology already. He is of opinion that God 'lives among the birds.' He
has taken to calling himself '_Peninni_,'[3] which sounds something like
a fairy's name, though he means it for 'Wiedeman.'

Robert is in good spirits, and inclined to like Paris increasingly. Do
you know I think you have an idea in England that you monopolise
comforts, and I, for one, can't admit it. These snug 'apartments'
exclude the draughty passages and staircases, which threaten your life
every time that you run to your bedroom for a pocket-handkerchief in
England. I much prefer the Continental houses to the English ones, both
for winter and summer, on this account.

So glad I am that you are nearly at the end of your work. To rest after
work, what more than rest that always is!

Write to us often--do! We are not in Italy, and you have no excuse for
even _seeming_ to forget us. We are full in sight still, remember.

Are you aware that Carlyle travelled with us to Paris? He left a deep
impression with me. It is difficult to conceive of a more interesting
human soul, I think. All the bitterness is love with the point reversed.
He seems to me to have a profound sensibility--so profound and turbulent
that it unsettles his general sympathies. Do you guess what I mean the
least in the world? or is it as dark as my writings are of course?

I hope on every account you will have no increase of domestic care. How
is Miss Procter? How kind everybody was to us in England, and how
affectionately we remember it! God bless you yourself! We love you for
the past and the present, besides the future in December.

Your attached
E.B.B.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

[Paris,] 138 Avenue des Champs-Elysees:
October 22, [1851].

The pause in writing has come from the confusion in living, my ever
dearest Miss Mitford, and no worse cause. It was a long while before we
could settle ourselves in a private apartment, and we had to stay at the
hotel and wander about like doves turned out of the dove-cote, and
seeking where to inhabit.... We have seen nothing in Paris, except the
shell of it, yet. No theatres--nothing but business. Yet two evenings
ago we hazarded going to a 'reception' at Lady Elgin's, in the Faubourg
St. Germain, and saw some French, but nobody of distinction. It is a
good house, I believe, and she has an earnest face which must mean
something. We were invited, and _are_ invited to go every Monday, and
that Monday in particular, between eight and twelve. You go in a morning
dress, and there is tea. Nothing can be more _sans facon_, and my
tremors (for, do you know, I was quite nervous on the occasion, and
charged Robert to keep close to me) were perfectly unjustified by the
event. You see it was an untried form of society--like trying a Turkish
bath. I expected to see Balzac's duchesses and _hommes de lettres_ on
all sides of me, but there was nothing very noticeable, I think, though
we found it agreeable enough. We go on Friday evening to a Madame
Mohl's, where we are to have some of the 'celebrities,' I believe, for
she seems to know everybody of all colours, from white to red. Then
Mazzini is to give us a letter to George Sand--come what will, we must
have a letter to George Sand--and Robert has one to Emile Lorquet of the
'National,' and Gavarni of the 'Charivari,' so that we shall manage to
thrust our heads into this atmosphere of Parisian journalism, and learn
by experience how it smells. I hear that George Sand is seldom at Paris
now. She has devoted herself to play-writing, and employs a houseful of
men, her son's friends and her own, in acting privately with her what
she writes--trying it on a home stage before she tries it at Paris. Her
son is a very ordinary young man of three-and-twenty, but she is fond of
him....

Never expect me to agree with you in that _cause celebre_ of 'ladies and
gentlemen' against people of letters. I don't like the sort of veneer
which passes in society--yes, I like it, but I don't love it. I know
what the thing is worth as a matter of furniture-accomplishment, and
there an end. I should rather look at the scratched silent violin in the
corner, with the sense that music has come out of it or will come. I am
grateful to the man who has written a good book, and I recognise
reverently that the roots of it are in him. And, do you know, I was not
disappointed at all in what I saw of writers of books in London; no, not
at all. Carlyle, for instance, I liked infinitely more in his
personality than I expected to like him, and I saw a great deal of him,
for he travelled with us to Paris and spent several evenings with us, we
three together. He is one of the most interesting men I could imagine
even, deeply interesting to me; and you come to understand perfectly,
when you know him, that his bitterness is only melancholy, and his scorn
sensibility. Highly picturesque too he is in conversation. The talk of
writing men is very seldom as good.

And, do you know, I was much taken, in London, with a young authoress,
Geraldine Jewsbury. You have read her books. There's a French sort of
daring, half-audacious power in them, but she herself is quiet and
simple, and drew my heart out of me a good deal. I felt inclined to love
her in our half-hour's intercourse. And I liked Lady Eastlake too in
another way, the 'lady' of the 'Letters from the Baltic,' nay, I liked
her better than the 'lady'....

Do write to me and tell me of your house, whether you are settling down
in it comfortably[4]. In every new house there's a good deal of bird's
work in treading and shuffling down the loose sticks and straws, before
one can feel it is to be a nest. Robert laughs at me sometimes for
pushing about the chairs and tables in a sort of distracted way, but
it's the very instinct of making a sympathetical home, that works in me.
We were miserably off in London. I couldn't tuck myself in anyhow. And
we enjoy in proportion these luxurious armchairs, so good for the
Lollards.

People say that the troops which pass before our windows every few days
through the 'Arc de l'Etoile' to be reviewed will bring the President
back with them as 'emperor' some sunny morning not far off. As to
waiting till _May_, nobody expects it. There is a great inward
agitation, but the surface of things is smooth enough. Be constant, be
constant! Constancy is a rare virtue even where it is not an undeniable
piece of wisdom. Vive Napoleon II.!

As to the book, ah, you are always, and have always been, too good to
_me_, that's quite certain; and if you are not too good to my husband,
it is only because I am persuaded in my secret soul nobody _can_ be too
good to him.

He sends you his warm regards, and I send you a kiss of baby's, who is
finishing his Babylonish education, unfortunate child, by learning a
complement of French. I assure you he understands everything you can say
to him in English as well as Italian, so that he won't be utterly
denationalised.

God bless you. Say how you are and write soon.

Your ever affectionate
E.B.B.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

[Paris,] 138 Avenue des Champs-Elysees:
November 12, 1851.

I see your house, my beloved friend, and clap my hands for pleasure. It
will suit you admirably, I see, plainly from Paris, and how right you
are about the pretty garden, not to make it fine and modern; you have
the right instincts about such things, and are too strong for Mrs.
Loudon and the landscape gardeners. The only defect apparent to me at
this distance is the size of the sitting room.... If you were to see
what we call 'an apartment' in Paris! We have just a slip of a kitchen,
and no passage, no staircase to take up the space, which is altogether
_spent_ upon sitting and sleeping rooms. Talk of English comforts! It's
a national delusion. The comfort of the Continental way of life has only
to be tested to be recognised (with the exception of the locks of doors
and windows, which are _barbaric_ here, there's no other word for it).
The economy of a habitation is understood in Paris. You have the
advantages of a large house without the disadvantages, without the
coldness, without the dearness. And the beds, chairs, and sofas are
perfect things.

But the climate is not perfect, it seems, for we have had very cold
weather the last ten days, and I am a prisoner as usual. Our friends
swear to us that it is exceptional weather and that it will be warmer
presently, and I listen with a sort of 'doubtful doubt' worthy of a
metaphysician. It is some comfort to hear that it's below zero in London
meanwhile, and that Scotland stands eight feet deep in snow.

We have a letter for George Sand (directed _a Madame George Sand_) from
Mazzini, and we hear that she is to be in Paris within twelve days. Then
we must make a rush and present it, for her stay here is not likely to
be long, and I would not miss seeing her for a great deal, though I have
not read one of her late dramas, and only by faith understand that her
wonderful genius has conquered new kingdoms. Her last romance, 'Le
Chateau des Deserts,' is treated disdainfully in the 'Athenaeum.' I have
not read _that_ even, but Mr. Chorley is apt to be cold towards French
writers and I don't expect his judgment as final therefore. Have you
seen M. de la Mare's correspondence with Mirabeau? And do you ever catch
sight of the 'Revue des Deux Mondes'? In the August number is an
excellent and most pleasant article on my husband, elaborately written
and so highly appreciatory as well nigh to satisfy _me_.[5] 'Set you
down this' that there has sprung up in France lately an ardent
admiration of the present English schools of poetry, or rather of the
poetry produced by the present English schools, which they consider _an
advance upon the poetry of the ages_. Think of _this_, you English
readers who are still wearing broad hems and bombazeens for the Byron
and Scott glorious days!

Let me think what I can tell you of the President. I have never seen his
face, though he has driven past me in the boulevards, and past these
windows constantly, but it is said that he is very like his
portraits--and, yes, rumour and the gazettes speak of his riding well.
Wilson and Wiedeman had an excellent view of him the other day as he
turned into a courtyard to pay some visit, and she tells me that his
carriage was half full of petitions and nosegays thrown through the
windows. What a fourth act of a play we are in just now! It is difficult
to guess at the catastrophe. Certainly he must be very sure of his hold
on the people to propose repealing the May edict,[6] and yet there are
persons who persist in declaring that nobody cares for him and that even
a revision of the constitution will not bring about his re-election. _I_
am of an opposite mind; though there is not much overt enthusiasm of the
population in behalf of his person. Still, this may arise from a quiet
resolve to keep him where he is, and an assurance that he can't be
ousted in spite of the people and army. It is significant, I think, that
Emile de Girardin should stretch out a hand (a little dirty, be it
observed in passing), and that Lamartine, after fasting nineteen days
and nights (a miraculous fast, without fear of the 'prefect'), should
murmur a 'credo' in favour of his honesty. As to honesty, 'I do believe
he's honest;' that is to say, he has acted out no dishonesty _as yet_,
and we have no right to interpret doubtful texts into dishonorable
allegations. But for ambition--for ambition! Answer from the depth of
your conscience, 'de profundis.' Is he or is he not an ambitious man?
Does he or does he not mean in his soul to be Napoleon the Second? Yes,
yes--I think, you think, we all think.

Robert's father and sister have been paying us a visit during the last
three weeks. They are very affectionate to me, and I love them for his
sake and their own, and am very sorry at the thought of losing them,
which we are on the point of doing. We hope, however, to establish them
in Paris if we can stay, and if no other obstacle should arise before
the spring, when they must leave Hatcham. Little Wiedeman _draws_; as
you may suppose, he is adored by his grandpapa; and then, Robert! they
are an affectionate family and not easy when removed one from another.
Sarianna is full of accomplishment and admirable sense, even-tempered
and excellent in all ways--devoted to her father as she was to her
mother: indeed, the relations of life seem reversed in their case, and
the father appears the child of the child....

Perhaps you have not seen Eugene Sue's 'Mysteres de Paris'--and I am not
deep in the first volume yet. Fancy the wickedness and stupidity of
trying to revive the distinctions and hatreds of race between the Gauls
and Franks. The Gauls, please to understand, are the 'proletaires,' and
the capitalists are the Frank invaders (call them Cosaques, says Sue)
out of the forests of Germany!...

I saw no Mr. Harness; and no Talfourd of any kind. The latter was a kind
of misadventure, as Lady Talfourd was on the point of calling on me when
Robert would not let her. We were going away just then. Mr. Horne I had
the satisfaction of seeing several times--you know how much regard I
feel for him. One evening he had the kindness to bring his wife miles
upon miles just to drink tea with us, and we were to have spent a day
with them somehow, half among the fields, but engagements came betwixt
us adversely. She is less pretty and more interesting than I
expected--looking very young, her black glossy hair hanging down her
back in ringlets; with deep earnest eyes, and a silent listening manner.
He was full of the 'Household Words,' and seems to write articles
together with Dickens--which must be highly unsatisfactory, as Dickens's
name and fame swallow up every sort of minor reputation in the shadow of
his path. I shouldn't like, for my part (and if I were a fish), to herd
with crocodiles. But I suppose the 'Household Words' _pay_--and that's a
consideration. 'Claudie' I have not read. We have only just subscribed
to a library, and we have been absorbed a good deal by our visitors....

Write and don't leave off loving me. I will tell you of everybody
noticeable whom I happen to see, and of George Sand among the first.

Love your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

[Paris,] 138 Avenue des Champs-Elysees:
December 10, [1851].

I receive your letter, dearest friend, and hasten to write a few brief
words to save the post.

We have suffered neither fear nor danger--and I would not have missed
the grand spectacle of the second of December[7] for anything in the
world--scarcely, I say, for the sight of the Alps.

On the only day in which there was much fighting (Thursday), Wiedeman
was taken out to walk as usual, under the precaution of keeping in the
immediate neighbourhood of this house. This will prove to you how little
we have feared for ourselves.

But the natural emotion of the situation one could not escape from, and
on Thursday night I sate up in my dressing gown till nearly one,
listening to the distant firing from the boulevards. Thursday was the
only day in which there was fighting of any serious kind. There has been
_no resistance_ on the part of the real people--nothing but sympathy for
the President, I _believe_, if you except the natural mortification and
disappointment of baffled parties. To judge from our own tradespeople:
'il a bien fait! c'est le vrai neveu de son oncle!' such phrases rung on
every tone expressed the prevailing sentiment.

For my own part I have not only more hope in the situation but more
faith in the French people than is ordinary among the English, who
really try to exceed one another in discoloration and distortion of the
circumstances. The government was in a deadlock--what was to be done?
Yes, all parties cried out, 'What was to be done?' and felt that we were
waist deep a fortnight ago in a state of crisis. In throwing back the
sovereignty from a 'representative assembly' which had virtually ceased
to represent, into the hands of the people, I think that Louis Napoleon
did well. The talk about 'military despotism' is absolute nonsense. The
French army is eminently civic, and nations who take their ideas from
the very opposite fact of a _standing army_ are far from understanding
how absolutely a French soldier and French citizen are the same thing.
The independence of the elections seems to be put out of reach of
injury; and intelligent men of adverse opinions to the government think
that the majority will be large in its favour. Such a majority would
certainly justify Louis Napoleon, or _should_--even with you in England.

I think you quite understate the amount of public virtue in France. The
difficulties of statesmanship here are enormous. I do not accuse even M.
Thiers of want of public virtue. What he has wanted, has been length and
breadth of view--purely an intellectual defect--and his petty, puny
_tracasseries_ destroyed the Republican Assembly just as it destroyed
the throne of Louis Philippe, in spite of his own intentions.

There is a conflict of ideas in France, which we have no notion of in
England, but we ought to understand that it does not involve the failing
of _principle_, in the elemental moral sense. Be just to France, dear
friend, you who are more than an Englishwoman--a Mrs. Jameson!

Everything is perfectly tranquil in Paris, I assure you--theatres full
and galleries open as usual. At the same time, timid and discouraged
persons say, 'Wait till after the elections,' and of course the public
emotion will be a good deal excited at that time. Therefore, judge for
yourself. For my own part I have not had the slightest cause for alarm
of any kind--and there is my child! Judge....

The weather is exquisite, and I am going out to walk directly. It is
scarcely possible to bear a fire, and some of our friends sit with the
window open. We are all well.

This should have gone to you yesterday, but we had visitors who talked
past post time. The delay, however, has allowed of my writing more than
I meant to have done in beginning this letter. Robert's best love.

Your ever affectionate
BA.

Robert says that according to the impression of the wisest there can be
no danger. Don't wait till after the elections. The time is most
interesting, and it is well worth your while to come and see for
yourself.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

[Paris,] 138 Avenue des Champs-Elysees:
December 11, [1851].

To show how alive I am, dearest Mrs. Martin, I will tell you that I have
just come home from a long walk to the Tuileries. We took a carriage to
return, that's true. Then yesterday I was out, besides, and last
Saturday, _the 6th_, we drove down the boulevards to see the field of
action on the terrible Thursday (the only day on which there was any
fighting of consequence), counting the holes in the walls bored by the
cannon, and looking at the windows smashed in. Even then, though the
asphalte was black with crowds, the quiet was absolute, and most of the
shops reopened. On Sunday the theatres were as full as usual, and our
Champs-Elysees had quite its complement of promenaders. Wiedeman's
prophecy had not been carried out, any more than the prophecies of the
wiser may--the soldiers had not shot Punch.

And now I do beg you not to be down-hearted. See, if French blood runs
in your veins, that you don't take a pedantic view of this question like
an Englishwoman. Constitutional forms and essential principles of
liberty are so associated in England, that they are apt to be
confounded, and are, in fact, constantly confounded. For my part, I am
too good a democrat to be afraid of being thrown back upon the primitive
popular element, from impossible paper constitutions and unrepresenting
representative assemblies. The situation was in a deadlock, and all the
conflicting parties were full of dangerous hope of taking advantage of
it; and I don't see, for my part, what better could be done for the
French nation than to sweep the board clear and bid them begin again.
With no sort of prejudice in favour of Louis Napoleon (except, I confess
to you, some artistical admiration for the consummate ability and
courage shown in his _coup d'etat_), with no particular faith in the
purity of his patriotism, I yet hold him justified _so far_, that is, I
hold that a pure patriot would be perfectly justifiable in taking the
same steps which up to this moment he has taken. He has broken,
certainly, the husk of an oath, but fidelity to the intention of it
seems to me reconcilable with the breach; and if he had not felt that he
had the great mass of the people to back him, he is at least too able a
man, be certain, if not too honest a man, to have dared what he has
dared. You will see the result of the elections. As to Paris, don't
believe that Paris suffers violence from Louis Napoleon. The result of
my own impressions is a conviction that _from the beginning_ he had the
sympathy of the whole population here with him, to speak generally, and
exclusively of particular parties. All our tradespeople, for instance,
milkman, breadman, wine merchant, and the rest, yes, even the shrewd old
washerwoman, and the concierge, and our little lively servant were in a
glow of sympathy and admiration. 'Mais, c'est le vrai neveu de son
oncle! il est admirable! enfin la patrie sera sauvee.' The bourgeoisie
has now accepted the situation, it is admitted on all hands. 'Scandalous
adhesion!' say some. 'Dreadful apathy!' say others. Don't _you_ say
either one or the other, or I think you will be unjust to Paris and
France.

The French people are very democratical in their tendencies, but they
must have a visible type of hero-worship, and they find it in the bearer
of that name Napoleon. That name is the only tradition dear to them, and
it is deeply dear. That a man bearing it, and appealing at the same time
to the whole people upon democratical principles, should be answered
from the heart of the people, should neither astonish, nor shame, nor
enrage anybody.

An editor of the 'National,' a friend of ours, feels this so much, that
he gnashes his teeth over the imprudence of the extreme Reds, who did
not set themselves to trample out the fires of Buonapartism while they
had some possibility of doing it. 'Ce peuple a la tete _dure_,' said he
vehemently.

As to military despotism, would France bear _that_, do you think? Is the
French army, besides, made after the fashion of standing armies, such as
we see in other countries? Are they not eminently _civic_, flesh of the
people's flesh? I fear no military despotism for France, oh, none. Every
soldier is a citizen, and every citizen is or has been a soldier.

Altogether, instead of despairing, I am full of hope. It seems to me
probable that the door is open to a wider and calmer political liberty
than France has yet enjoyed. Let us wait.

The American _forms_ of republicanism are most uncongenial to this
artistic people; but democratical institutions will deepen and broaden,
I think, even if we should soon all be talking of the 'Empire.'

As to the repressive measures, why, grant the righteousness of the
movement, and you must accept its conditions. Don't believe the
tremendous exaggerations you are likely to hear on all sides--don't, I
beseech you.

The President rode under our windows on December 2, through a shout
extending from the Carrousel to the Arc de l'Etoile. The troups poured
in as we stood and looked. No sight could be grander, and I would not
have missed it, not for the Alps, I say.

You say nothing specific. How I should like to know _why_ exactly you
are out of spirits, and whether dear Mr. Martin is sad too. Robert and I
have had some domestic _emeutes_, because he hates some imperial names;
yet he confessed to me last night that the excessive and contradictory
nonsense he had heard among Legitimists, Orleanists, and _English_,
against the movement inclined him almost to a revulsion of feeling.

I would have written to you to-day, even if I had not received your
letter. You will forgive that what I have written should have been
scratched in the utmost haste to save the post. I can't even read it
over. There's the effect of going out to walk the first thing in the
morning....

Your ever affectionate
BA--to both of you.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

[Paris,] 138 Avenue des Champs-Elysees:
Christmas Eve, [1851].

What can you have thought of me? That I was shot or deserved to be?
Forgive in the first instance, dearest friend, and believe that I won't
behave so any more, if in any way I can help it.

Tell me your thought now about L. Napoleon. He rode under our windows on
December 2 through an immense shout from the Carrousel to the Arc de
l'Etoile. There was the army and the sun of Austerlitz, and even I
thought it one of the grandest of sights; for he rode there in the name
of the people, after all....

But we know men most opposed to him, writers of the old 'Presse' and
'National,' and Orleanists, and Legitimists, and the fury of all such I
can scarcely express to you after the life. Emile de Girardin and his
friends had a sublime scheme of going over in a body to England, and
establishing a Socialist periodical, inscribing on their new habitation,
'Ici c'est la France.' He actually advertised for sale his beautiful
house close by in the Champs-Elysees, asked ten thousand pounds
(English) for it; and would have been 'rather disappointed,' as one of
his sympathising friends confessed to us, if the offer had been
accepted. I heard a good story the other day. A lady visitor was
groaning politically to Madame de Girardin over the desperateness of the
situation. 'Il n'y a que Celui, qui est en haut, qui peut nous en
tirer,' said she, casting up her eyes. 'Oui, c'est vrai,' replied
Madame, 'il le pourrait, lui,' glancing towards the second floor, where
Emile was at work upon feuilletons. Not that she mistakes him habitually
for her deity, by any manner of means, if scandal is to be listened to.

I hear that Lamennais is profoundly disgusted. He said to a friend of
ours, that the French people were 'putrefied to the heart.' Which means
that they have one tradition still dear to them (the name of Napoleon)
and that they put no faith in the Socialistic prophets. Wise or unwise
they may be accordingly; but an affection and an apprehension can't
reasonably be said to amount to a 'putrefaction,' I think. No, indeed.

Louis Napoleon is said to say (a bitter foe of his told me this) that
'there will be four phases of his life.' The first was all rashness and
imprudence, but 'it was necessary to make him known:' the second, 'the
struggle with and triumph over anarchy:' the third, 'the settlement of
France and the pacification of Europe:' the fourth, a _coup de pistolet.
Se non e vero, e ben trovato._ Nothing is more likely than the
catastrophe in any case; and the violence of the passions excited in the
minority makes me wonder at his surviving a day even. Do you know I
heard your idol of a Napoleon (the antique hero) called the other
evening through a black beard and gnashing teeth, 'le plus grand
scelerat du monde,' and his empire, 'le regne du Satan,' and his
marshals, 'les coquins.' After that, I won't tell you that 'le neveu' is
reproached with every iniquity possible to anybody's public and private
life. Perhaps he is not 'sans reproche' in respect to the latter, not
altogether; but one can't believe, and oughtn't, even infinitesimally,
the things which are talked on the subject....

Ah, I am so vexed about George Sand. She came, she has gone, and we
haven't met! There was a M. Francois who pretended to be her very very
particular friend, and who managed the business so particularly ill,
from some motive or some incapacity, that he did not give us an
opportunity of presenting our letter. He did not '_dare_' to present it
for us, he said. She is shy--she distrusts bookmaking strangers, and she
intended to be incognita while in Paris. He proposed that we should
leave it at the theatre, and Robert refused. Robert said he wouldn't
have our letter mixed up with the love letters of the actresses, or
perhaps given to the 'premier comique' to read aloud in the green room,
as a relief to the 'Chere adorable,' which had produced so much
laughter. Robert was a little proud and M. Francois very stupid; and I,
between the two, in a furious state of dissent from either. Robert tries
to smooth down my ruffled plumage now, by promising to look out for some
other opportunity, but the late one has gone. She is said to have
appeared in Paris in a bloom of recovered beauty and brilliancy of eyes,
and the success of her play, 'Le Mariage de Victorine,' was complete. A
strange, wild, wonderful woman, certainly. While she was here, she used
a bedroom which belongs to her son--a mere 'chambre de garcon'--and for
the rest, saw whatever friends she chose to see only at the 'cafe,'
where she breakfasted and dined. She has just finished a romance, we
hear, and took fifty-two nights to write it. She writes only at night.
People call her Madame Sand. There seems to be no other name for her in
society or letters.

Now listen. Alexandre Dumas _does_ write his own books, that's a fact.
You know I always maintained it, through the odour of Dumas in the
books, but people swore the contrary with great foolish oaths worth
nothing. Maquet prepares historical materials, gathers together notes,
and so on, but Dumas writes every word of his books with his own hand,
and with a facility amounting to inspiration, said my informant. He
called him a great savage negro child. If he has twenty sous and wants
bread, he buys a pretty cane instead. For the rest, 'bon enfant,' kind
and amiable. An inspired negro child! In debt at this moment, after all
the sums he has made, said my informant--himself a most credible witness
and highly cultivated man.

I heard of Eugene Sue, too, yesterday. Our child is invited to a
Christmas tree and party, and Robert says he is too young to go, but I
persist in sending him for half an hour with Wilson--oh, really I
must--though he will be by far the youngest of the thirty children
invited. The lady of the house, Miss Fitton, an English resident in
Paris, an elderly woman, shrewd and kind, said to Robert that she had a
great mind to have Eugene Sue, only he was so scampish. I think that was
the word, or something alarmingly equivalent. Now I should like to see
Eugene Sue with my little innocent child in his arms; the idea of the
combination pleases me somewhat. But I sha'n't see it in any case. We
had three cold days last week, which brought back my cough and took away
my voice. I am dumb for the present and can't go out any more....

At last I have caught sight of an advertisement of your book. A very
catching title, and if I mayn't compliment you upon it, I certainly do
your publisher. I dare say the book is charming, and the more of
yourself in it, the more charming.

Write, and say how you are always when you write. Say, too, how you
continue to like your new house. We heard a good deal of you from Mr.
Fields, though he came to us only once. With him came Mr. Longfellow,
the poet's brother, who is at present in Paris--I mean the brother, not
the poet. Robert's love, may I say?

Wiedeman has struck up two friendships: one, with the small daughter of
our concierge and one with a little Russian princess, a month younger
than himself. He calls them both 'boys,' having no idea yet of the less
sublime sex, but he likes the plebeian best. May God make you happy on
this and other seasons!

Love your affectionate and grateful
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

[Paris,] 138 Avenue des Champs-Elysees:
January 17, [1852].

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--If you think I have not written to you, you
must be (as you are) the most lenient of friends, not to give me up for
ever. I answered your first letter by return of post and at great
length. About a fortnight ago, Robert heard from Madame Mohl, who heard
from somebody at Pau that you were 'waiting anxiously to hear from me,'
upon which I wrote a second letter. And that, too, did not reach you? Is
it possible? But I am innocent, innocent, innocent. See how innocent.
Now, if M. le President has stopped my letters, or if he ponders in his
imperial mind how to send me out of Paris, he is as ungrateful as a
king, because I have been taking his part all this time at a great cost
of domestic _emeutes_. So you would have known, if you had received my
letters. The _coup d'etat_ was a grand thing, dramatically and
poetically speaking, and the appeal to the people justified it in my
eyes, considering the immense difficulty of the circumstances, the
impossibility of the old constitution and the impracticability of the
House of Assembly. Now that's all over. For the rest--the new
constitution--I can't say as much for it; it disappoints me immensely.
Absolute government, _no_, while the taxes and acceptance of law lies,
as he leaves it, with the people; but there are stupidities undeniable,
I am afraid, and how such a constitution is to _work_, and how marshals
and cardinals are to help to work it, remains to be seen. I fear we have
not made a good change even from the 'constitution Marrast'[8] after
all. The English newspapers have made me so angry, that I scarcely know
whether I am as much ashamed, yet the shame is very great. As if the
people of France had not a right to vote as they pleased![9] We
understand nothing in England. As Cousin said, long ago, we are
'insular' of understanding. France may be mistaken in her speculations,
as she often is; and if any mistake has been lately committed, it will
be corrected by herself in a short time. Ignoble in her speculations she
never is....

I must tell you, my dearest friend, that for some days past I have been
very much upset, and am scarcely now fairly on my feet again, in
consequence of becoming suddenly aware of a painful indiscretion
committed by an affectionate and generous woman. I refer to Miss
Mitford's account of me in her new book.[10] We heard of it in a strange
way, through M. Philaret Chasles, of the College de France, beginning a
course of lectures on English literature, and announcing an extended
notice of E.B.B., 'the veil from whose private life had lately been
raised by Miss Mitford.' Somebody who happened to be present told us of
it, and while we were wondering and uncomfortable, up came a writer in
the 'Revue des Deux Mondes' to consult Robert upon a difficulty he was
in. He was engaged, he said, upon an article relating to me, and the
proprietors of the review had sent him a number of the 'Athenaeum,' which
contained an extract from Miss M.'s book, desiring him to make use of
the biographical details. Now it struck him immediately, he said, on
reading the passage, that it was likely to give me great pain, and he
was so unwilling to be the means of giving me more pain that he came to
Robert to ask him how he should act. Do observe the delicacy and
sensibility of this man--a man, a foreigner, a Frenchman! I shall be
grateful to him as long as I live.[11]

Robert has seen the extract in the 'Athenaeum.' It refers to the great
affliction of my life, with the most affectionate intentions and the
obtusest understanding. I know I am morbid, but this thing should not
have been done indeed. Now, I shall be liable to see recollections
dreadful to me, thrust into every vulgar notice of my books. I shall be
afraid to see my books reviewed anywhere. Oh! I have been so deeply
shaken by all this. _You_ will understand, I am certain, and I could not
help speaking of it to you, because I was certain.

I am answering your note, observe, by return of post. Do let me know if
you receive what I write this time. Robert will direct for me, having
faith in his superior legibleness, and I accept the insult implied in
the opinion.

God bless you. Do write. And never doubt my grateful affection for you,
whether posts go ill or well.

Robert is going out to inquire about 'My Novel.' His warm regards with
mine to dear Mr. Martin and yourself. This is a scratch rather than a
letter, but I would rather send it to you in haste than wait for another
post.

Your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


The following letter marks the beginning of a new friendship, with Miss
Mulock, afterwards Mrs. Craik, the authoress of 'John Halifax,
Gentleman.' The subsequent letters are in very affectionate tones, but
it does not appear that the correspondence ever reached any very
extended dimensions.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mulock_

Paris, 138 Avenue des Champs-Elysees:
January 21, [1852].

I hear from England that you have dedicated a book to me with too kind
and most touching words. To thank you for such a proof of sympathy, to
thank you from my heart, cannot surely be a wrong thing to do, it seems
so natural and comes from so irresistible an impulse.

I read a book of yours once at Florence, which first made [me] know you
pleasantly, and afterwards (that was at Florence, too) there came a
piercing touch from a hand in the air--whether yours also, I cannot dare
to guess--which has preoccupied me a good deal since. If I speak to you
in mysteries, forgive me. Let it be clear at least, that I am very happy
to be grateful to you for the honor you have done me in your dedication,
and that my husband, moved more, as he always is, by honor paid to me
than to himself, thanks you beside. I will not keep back his thanks,
which are worth more than mine can be.

For the rest, we have, neither of us, seen the book yet, nor even read
an exact copy of the words in question. Only the rumour of them appears
to run that I am 'not likely ever to see you.' And why am I never to see
you, pray? Unlikelier pleasures have been granted to me, and I will not
indeed lose hold of the hope of this pleasure.

Allow it to

Your always obliged
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

[Paris,] 138 Avenue des Champs-Elysees:
[January-February 1852].

My very dear friend, let me begin what I have to say by recognising you
as the most generous and affectionate of friends. I never could mistake
the least of your intentions; you were always, from first to last, kind
and tenderly indulgent to me--always exaggerating what was good in me,
always forgetting what was faulty and weak--keeping me by force of
affection in a higher place than I could aspire to by force of vanity;
loving me always, in fact. Now let me tell you the truth. It will prove
how hard it is for the tenderest friends to help paining one another,
since _you_ have pained _me_. See what a deep wound I must have in me,
to be pained by the touch of such a hand. Oh, I am morbid, I very well
know. But the truth is that I have been miserably upset by your book,
and that if I had had the least imagination of your intending to touch
upon certain biographical details in relation to me, I would have
conjured you by your love to me and by my love to you, to forbear it
altogether. You cannot understand; no, you cannot understand with all
your wide sympathy (perhaps, because you are not morbid, and I am), the
sort of susceptibility I have upon one subject. I have lived heart to
heart (for instance) with my husband these five years: I have never yet
spoken out, in a whisper even, what is in me; never yet could find heart
or breath; never yet could bear to hear a word of reference from his
lips. And now those dreadful words are going the round of the
newspapers, to be verified here, commented on there, gossiped about
everywhere; and I, for my part, am frightened to look at a paper as a
child in the dark--as unreasonably, you will say--but what then? what
drives us mad is our unreason. I will tell you how it was. First of all,
an English acquaintance here told us that she had been hearing a lecture
at the College de France, and that the professor, M. Philaret Chasles,
in the introduction to a series of lectures on English poetry, had
expressed his intention of noticing Tennyson, Browning, &c., and
E.B.B.--'from whose private life the veil had been raised in so
interesting a manner lately by Miss Mitford.' In the midst of my anxiety
about this, up comes a writer of the 'Revue des Deux Mondes' to my
husband, to say that he was preparing a review upon me and had been
directed by the editor to make use of some biographical details
extracted from your book into the 'Athenaeum,' but that it had occurred
to him doubtfully whether certain things might not be painful to me, and
whether I might not prefer their being omitted in his paper. (All this
time we had seen neither book nor 'Athenaeum.') Robert answered for me
that the omission of such and such things would be much preferred by me,
and accordingly the article appears in the 'Revue' with the passage from
your book garbled and curtailed as seemed best to the quoter. Then
Robert set about procuring the 'Athenaeum' in question. He tells me (and
_that_ I perfectly believe) that, for the facts to be given at all, they
could not possibly be given with greater delicacy; oh, and I will add
for myself, that for them to be related by anyone during my life, I
would rather have _you_ to relate them than another. But why should they
be related during my life? There was no need, no need. To show my
nervous susceptibility in the length and breadth of it to you, I _could
not_ (when it came to the point) _bear to read_ the passage extracted in
the 'Athenaeum,' notwithstanding my natural anxiety to see exactly what
was done. I could not bear to do it. I made Robert read it aloud--with
omissions--so that I know all your kindness. I feel it deeply; through
tears of pain I feel it; and if, as I dare say you will, you think me
very very foolish, do not on that account think me ungrateful.
Ungrateful I never can be to you, my much loved and kindest friend.

I hear your book is considered one of your best productions, and I do
not doubt that the opinion is just. Thank you for giving it to us, thank
you.

I don't like to send you a letter from Paris without a word about your
hero--'handsome,' I fancy not, nor the imperial type. I have not seen
his face distinctly. What do you think about the constitution? Will it
work, do you fancy, now-a-days in France? The initiative of the laws,
put out of the power of the legislative assembly, seems to me a
stupidity; and the senators, in their fine dresses, make me wink a
little. Also, I hear that the 'senatorial cardinals' don't please the
peasants, who hate the priesthood as much as they hate the 'Cossacks.'
On the other hand, Montalembert was certainly in bed the other day with
vexation, because 'nobody could do anything with Louis Napoleon--he was
obstinate;' 'nous nous en lavons les mains,' and that fact gives me hope
that not too much indulgence is intended to the Church. There's to be a
ball at the Tuileries with 'court dresses,' which is 'un peu fort' for
a republic. By the way, rumour (with apparent authority justifying it)
says, that a black woman opened her mouth and prophesied to him at Ham,
'he should be the head of the French nation, and be assassinated in a
ball-room.' I was assured that he believes the prophecy firmly, 'being
in all things too superstitious' and fatalistical.

I was interrupted in this letter yesterday. Meantime comes out the
decree against the Orleans property, which I disapprove of altogether.
It's the worst thing yet done, to my mind. Yet the Bourse stands fast,
and the decree is likely enough to be popular with the ouvrier class.
There are rumours of tremendously wild financial measures, only I
believe in no rumours just now, and apparently the Bourse is as
incredulous on this particular point. If I thought (as people say) that
we are on the verge of a 'law' declaring the Roman Catholic religion the
State religion, I should give him up at once; but this would be contrary
to the traditions of the Empire, and I can't suppose it to be probable
on any account.

Observe, I am no Napoleonist. I am simply a _democrat_, and hold that
the majority of a nation has the right of choice upon the question of
its own government, _even where it makes a mistake_. Therefore the
outcry of the English newspapers is most disgusting to me. For the rest,
one can hardly do strict justice, at this time of transition, to the
ultimate situation of the country; we must really wait a little, till
the wind and rain shall have ceased to dash so in one's eyes. The wits
go on talking, though, all the same; and I heard a suggestion yesterday,
that, for the effaced 'Liberte, egalite, fraternite,' should be written
up, 'Infanterie, cavallerie, artillerie.' That's the last 'mot,' I
believe. The salons are very noisy. A lady was ordered to her country
seat the other day for exclaiming, 'Et il n'y a pas de Charlotte
Corday.'

Forgive, with this dull letter, my other defects. Always I am frank to
you, saying what is in my heart; and there is always there, dearest Miss
Mitford, a fruitful and grateful affection to you from your

E.B.B.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

[Paris], 138 Avenue des Ch.-Elysees:
February 15, [1852].

Thank you, thank you, my beloved friend. Yes; I do understand in my
heart all your kindness. Yes, I do believe that on some points I am full
of disease; and this has exposed me several times to shocks of pain in
the ordinary intercourse of the world, which for bystanders were hard, I
dare say, to make out. Once at the Baths of Lucca I was literally nearly
struck down to the ground by a single word said in all kindness by a
friend whom I had not seen for ten years. The blue sky reeled over me,
and I caught at something, not to fall. Well, there is no use dwelling
on this subject. I understand your affectionateness and tender
consideration, I repeat, and thank you; and love you, which is better.
Now, let us talk of reasonable things.

Beranger lives close to us, and Robert has seen him in his white hat
wandering along the asphalte. I had a notion somehow that he was very
old; but he is only elderly, not much indeed above sixty (which is the
prime of life now-a-days), and he lives quietly and keeps out of scrapes
poetical and political, and if Robert and I had but a little less
modesty we are assured that we should find access to him easy. But we
can't make up our minds to go to his door and introduce ourselves as
vagrant minstrels, when he may probably not know our names. We never
_could_ follow the fashion of certain authors who send their books about
without intimations of their being likely to be acceptable or not, of
which practice poor Tennyson knows too much for his peace. If, indeed, a
letter of introduction to Beranger were vouchsafed to us from any benign
quarter, we should both be delighted, but we must wait patiently for
the influence of the stars. Meanwhile, we have at last sent our letter
(Mazzini's) to George Sand, accompanied with a little note signed by
both of us, though written by me, as seemed right, being the woman. We
half despaired in doing this, for it is most difficult, it appears, to
get at her, she having taken vows against seeing strangers in
consequence of various annoyances and persecutions in and out of print,
which it's the mere instinct of a woman to avoid. I can understand it
perfectly. Also, she is in Paris for only a few days, and under a new
name, to escape from the plague of her notoriety. People said to us:
'She will never see you; you have no chance, I am afraid.' But we
determined to try. At last I pricked Robert up to the leap, for he was
really inclined to sit in his chair and be proud a little. 'No,' said I,
'you _shan't_ be proud, and I _won't_ be proud, and we _will_ see her. I
won't die, if I can help it, without seeing George Sand.' So we gave our
letter to a friend who was to give it to a friend, who was to place it
in her hands, her abode being a mystery and the name she used unknown.
The next day came by the post this answer:

     Madame,--J'aurai l'honneur de vous recevoir dimanche prochain
     rue Racine 3. C'est le seul jour que je puisse passer chez
     moi, et encore je n'en suis pas absolument certaine. Mais j'y
     ferai tellement mon possible, que ma bonne etoile m'y aidera
     peut-etre un peu.

     Agreez mille remerciments de coeur, ainsi que Monsieur
     Browning, que j'espere voir avec vous, pour la sympathie que
     vous m'accordez.

     GEORGE SAND.
     Paris: 12 fevrier, 52.


This is graceful and kind, is it not? And we are going to-morrow; I,
rather at the risk of my life. But I shall roll myself up head and all
in a thick shawl, and we shall go in a close carriage, and I hope I
shall be able to tell you about the result before shutting up this
letter.

One of her objects in coming to Paris this time was to get a commutation
of the sentence upon her friend Dufraisse, who was ordered to Cayenne.
She had an interview accordingly with the President. He shook hands with
her and granted her request, and in the course of conversation pointed
to a great heap of 'Decrees' on the table, being hatched 'for the good
of France.' I have heard scarcely anything of him, except from his
professed enemies; and it is really a good deal the simple recoil from
manifest falsehoods and gross exaggerations which has thrown me on the
ground of his defenders. For the rest, it remains to be _proved_, I
think, whether he is a mere ambitious man, or better--whether his
personality or his country stands highest with him as an object. I
thought and still think that a Washington might have dissolved the
Assembly as he did, and appealed to the people. Which is not saying,
however, that he is a Washington. We must wait, I think, to judge the
man. Only it is right to bear in mind one fact, that, admitting the
lawfulness of the _coup d'etat_, you must not object to the
dictatorship. And, admitting the temporary necessity of the
dictatorship, it is absolute folly to expect under it the liberty and
ease of a regular government.

What has saved him with me from the beginning was his appeal to the
people, and what makes his government respectable in my eyes is the
answer of the people to that appeal. Being a democrat, I dare to be so
_consequently_. There never was a more legitimate chief of a State than
Louis Napoleon is now--elected by seven millions and a half; and I do
maintain that, ape or demi-god, to insult him where he is, is to insult
the people who placed him there. As to the stupid outcry in England
about forced votes, voters pricked forward by bayonets--why, nothing can
be more stupid. Nobody not blinded by passion could maintain such a
thing for a moment. No Frenchman, however blinded by passion, has
maintained it in my presence.

A very philosophically minded man (French) was talking of these things
the other day--one of the most thoughtful, liberal men I ever knew of
any country, and high and pure in his moral views--also (let me add)
more _anglomane_ in general than I am. He was talking of the English
press. He said he 'did it justice for good and noble intentions' (more
than I do!), 'but marvelled at its extraordinary ignorance. Those
writers did not know the A B C of France. Then, as to Louis Napoleon,
whether he was right or wrong, they erred in supposing him not to be in
earnest with his constitution and other remedies for France. The fact
was, he not only was in earnest--he was even _fanatical_.'

There is, of course, much to deplore in the present state of
affairs--much that is very melancholy. The constitution is not a model
one, and no prospect of even comparative liberty of the Press has been
offered. At the same time, I hope still. As tranquillity is established,
there will be certain modifications; this, indeed, has been intimated,
and I think the Press will by degrees attain to its emancipation.
Meanwhile, the 'Athenaeum' and other English papers say wrongly that
there is a censure established on books. There is a censure on pamphlets
and newspapers--on _books_, no. Cormenin is said to have been the
adviser of the Orleans confiscation....

       *       *       *       *       *


_To John Kenyon_

[Paris], 138 Avenue des Ch.-Elysees:
February 15, 1852.

My dearest Mr. Kenyon,--Robert sends you his Shelley,[12] having a very
few copies allowed to him to dispose of. I think you have Shelley's
other letters, of which this volume is the supplement, and you will not
be sorry to have Robert's preface thrown in, though he makes very light
of it himself.

You never write a word to us, and so I don't mean to send you a letter
to-day--only as few lines as I can drop in a sulky fit, repenting as I
go on. As to politics, you know you have all put me in the corner
because I stand up for universal suffrage, and am weak enough to fancy
that seven millions and a half of Frenchmen have some right to an
opinion on their own affairs. It's really fatal in this world to be
consequent--it leads one into damnable errors. So I shall not say much
more at present. You must bear with me--dear Miss Bayley and all of
you--and believe of me, if I am ever so wrong, that I do at least pray
from my soul, 'May the right prevail!'--loving right, truth, justice,
and the people through whatever mistakes. As it was in the beginning,
from 'Casa Guidi Windows,' so it is now from the Avenue des
Champs-Elysees. I am most humanly liable, of course, to make mistakes,
and am by temperament perhaps over hopeful and sanguine. But I do see
with my own eyes and feel with my own spirit, and not with other
people's eyes and spirits, though they should happen to be the
dearest--and that's the very best of me, be certain, so don't quarrel
with it too much.

As to the worst of the President, let him have vulture's beak, hyena's
teeth, and the rattle of the great serpent, it's nothing to the
question. Let him be Caligula's horse raised to the consulship--what
then? I am not a Buonapartist; I am simply a 'democrat,' as you say. I
simply hold to the fact that, such as he is, the people chose him, and
to the opinion that they have a right to choose whom they please. When
your English Press denies the _fact of the choice_ (a fact which the
most passionate of party-men does not think of denying here), _I_ seem
to have a right to another opinion which might strike you as unpatriotic
if I uttered it in this place. _Hic tacet_, then, rather _jacet_.

For the rest, for heaven's sake and the truth's, do let us try to take
breath a little and be patient. Let us wait till the dust of the
struggle clears away before we take measures of the circus. We can't
have the liberty of a regular government under a dictatorship. And if
the 'constitution' which is coming is not model, it may wear itself into
shape by being worked calmly. These new boots will be easier to the feet
after half an hour's walking. Not that I like the pinching meanwhile.
Not that stringencies upon the Press please _me_--no, nor arrests and
imprisonments. I like these things, God knows, as little as the loudest
curser of you all, but I don't think it necessary and lawful to
exaggerate and over-colour, nor to paint the cheeks of sorrows into
horrors, nor to talk, like the 'Quarterly Review' (betwixt excuses for
the King of Naples), of two thousand four hundred persons being cut to
mincemeat in the streets of Paris, nor to call boldness hypocrisy
(because hypocrisy is the worse word), and the appeal to the sovereignty
of the people usurpation, and universal suffrage the pricking of
bayonets. Above all, I would avoid insulting the whole French nation,
who have judged their own position and acted accordingly. If Louis
Napoleon disappoints their expectation, he won't sit long where he is.
Of that I feel satisfactory assurance; and, considering the national
habits of insurrection, I really think that others may.

Meanwhile it is just to tell you that the two deepest-minded persons
whom we have known in Paris--one an ultra-Republican of European
reputation (I don't like mentioning names), and the other a
Constitutionalist of the purest and noblest moral nature--are both
inclined to take favorable views of the President's personal character
and intentions. For my part, I don't pretend to an opinion. He may be,
as they say, '_bon enfant_,' '_homme de conscience_,' and 'so much in
earnest as to be fanatical,' or he may be a wretch and a reptile, as you
say in England. That's nothing to the question as I see it. I don't take
it up by that handle at all. Caligula's horse or the people's
'Messiah,' as I heard him called the other day--what then? You are
wonderfully intolerant, you in England, of equine consulships, you who
bear with quite sufficient equanimity a great rampancy of beasts all
over the world--Mr. Forster not blowing the trumpet of war, and Mrs.
Alfred Tennyson not loading the rifles.

There now--I've done with politics to-day. Only just let me tell you
that Cormenin is said to be the adviser in the matter of the Orleans
decrees. So much the worse for him.

Whom do you think I saw yesterday? George Sand. Oh, I have been in such
fear about it! It's the most difficult thing to get access to her, and,
notwithstanding our letter from Mazzini, we were assured on all sides
that she would not see us. She has been persecuted by bookmakers--run to
ground by the race, and, after having quite lost her on her former visit
to Paris, it was in half despair that we seized on an opportunity of
committing our letter of introduction to a friend of a friend of hers,
who promised to put it into her own hands. With the letter I wrote a
little note--I writing, as I was the woman, and both of us signing it.
To my delight, we had an answer by the next day's post, gracious and
graceful, desiring us to call on her last Sunday.

So we went. Robert let me at last, though I had a struggle for even
that, the air being rather over-sharp for me. But I represented to him
that one might as well lose one's life as one's peace of mind for ever,
and if I lost seeing her I should with difficulty get over it. So I put
on my respirator, smothered myself with furs, and, in a close carriage,
did not run much risk after all.

She received us very kindly, with hand stretched out, which I, with a
natural emotion (I assure you my heart beat), stooped and kissed, when
she said quickly, 'Mais non, je ne veux pas,' and kissed my lips. She is
somewhat large for her height--not tall--and was dressed with great
nicety in a sort of grey serge gown and jacket, made after the ruling
fashion just now, and fastened up to the throat, plain linen collarette
and sleeves. Her hair was uncovered, divided on the forehead in black,
glossy bandeaux, and twisted up behind. The eyes and brow are noble, and
the nose is of a somewhat Jewish character; the chin a little recedes,
and the mouth is not good, though mobile, flashing out a sudden smile
with its white projecting teeth. There is no sweetness in the face, but
great moral as well as intellectual capacities--only it never _could_
have been a beautiful face, which a good deal surprised me. The chief
difference in it since it was younger is probably that the cheeks are
considerably fuller than they used to be, but this of course does not
alter the type. Her complexion is of a deep olive. I observed that her
hands were small and well-shaped. We sate with her perhaps
three-quarters of an hour or more--in which time she gave advice and
various directions to two or three young men who were there, showing her
confidence in us by the freest use of names and allusion to facts. She
seemed to be, in fact, _the man_ in that company, and the profound
respect with which she was listened to a good deal impressed me. You are
aware from the newspapers that she came to Paris for the purpose of
seeing the President in behalf of certain of her friends, and that it
was a successful mediation. What is peculiar in her manners and
conversation is the absolute simplicity of both. Her voice is low and
rapid, without emphasis or variety of modulation. Except one brilliant
smile, she was grave--indeed, she was speaking of grave matters, and
many of her friends are in adversity. But you could not help seeing
(both Robert and I saw it) that in all she said, even in her kindness
and pity, there was an under-current of scorn. A scorn of pleasing she
evidently had; there never could have been a colour of coquetry in that
woman. Her very freedom from affectation and consciousness had a touch
of disdain. But I liked her. I did not love her, but I felt the burning
soul through all that quietness, and was not disappointed in George
Sand. When we rose to go I could not help saying, 'C'est pour la
derniere fois,' and then she asked us to repeat our visit next Sunday,
and excused herself from coming to see us on the ground of a great press
of engagements. She kissed me again when we went away, and Robert kissed
her hand.

Lady Elgin has offered to take him one day this week to visit Lamartine
(who, we hear, will be glad to see us, having a cordial feeling towards
England and English poets), but I shall wait for some very warm day for
that visit, not meaning to run mortal risks, except for George Sand.
_Nota bene._ We didn't see her smoke.

Robert has ventured to send to your house, my dearest friend, two copies
of 'Shelley' besides yours--one for Mr. Procter, and one for Mrs.
Jameson, with kindest love, both. There is no hurry about either, you
know. We wanted another for dear Miss Bayley, but we have only six
copies, and don't keep one for ourselves, and she won't care, I dare
say.

Your ever most affectionate and grateful
BA.

Will you let your servant put this letter into the post for Miss
Mitford? She upset me by her book, but had the most affectionate
intentions, and I am obliged to her for what she meant. Then I am
morbid, I know.

Tell dearest Miss Bayley, with my love, I shall write to her soon.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

[Paris], 138 Avenue des Champs-Elysees:
February 26, [1852].

Never believe of me so bad a thing as that I could have received from
you, my ever dear and very dear friend, such a letter as you describe,
and rung hollow in return. I did not get your letter, so how could I
send an answer? Your letter's lost, like some other happy things. But I
thank you for it fervently, guessing from what you say the sympathy and
affection of it. I thank you for it most gratefully.

As for poor dear Miss Mitford's book, I was entirely upset by the
biography she thought it necessary or expedient to give of me. Oh, if
our friends would but put off anatomising one till after one was safely
dead, and call to mind that, previously, we have nerves to be agonised
and morbid brains to be driven mad! I am morbid, I know. I can't bear
some words even from Robert. Like the lady who lay in the grave, and was
ever after of the colour of a shroud, so I am white-souled, the past has
left its mark with me for ever. And now (this is the worst) every
newspaper critic who talks of my poems may refer to other things. I
shall not feel myself safe a moment from references which stab like a
knife.

But poor dear Miss Mitford, if we don't forgive what's meant as
kindness, how are we to forgive what's meant as injury? In my first
agitation I felt it as a real vexation that I couldn't be angry with
her. How could I, poor thing? She has always loved me, and been so
anxious to please me, and this time she seriously thought that Robert
and I would be delighted. Extraordinary defect of comprehension!

Still, I did not, I could not, conceal from her that she had given me
great pain, and she replied in a tone which really made me almost feel
ungrateful for being pained, she said 'rather that her whole book had
perished than have given me a moment's pain.' How are you to feel after
_that_?

For the rest, it appears that she had merely come forward to the rescue
of my reputation, no more than so. Sundry romantic tales had been in
circulation about me. I was 'in widow's weeds' in my habitual
costume--and, in fact, before I was married I had grievously scandalised
the English public (the imaginative part of the public), and it was
expedient to 'tirer de l'autre cote.'

Well, I might have laughed at _that_--but I didn't. I wrote a very
affectionate letter, for I really love Miss Mitford, though she
understands me no more under certain respects than you in England
understand Louis Napoleon and the French nation. Love's love. She meant
the best to me--and so, do you, who have a much more penetrating sense
of delicacy, forgive her for my sake, dear friend....

Of the memoirs of Madame Ossoli, I know only the extracts in the
'Athenaeum.' She was a most interesting woman to me, though I did not
sympathise with a large portion of her opinions. Her written works are
just _naught_. She said herself they were sketches, thrown out in haste
and for the means of subsistence, and that the sole production of hers
which was likely to represent her at all would be the history of the
Italian Revolution. In fact, her reputation, such as it was in America,
seemed to stand mainly on her conversation and oral lectures. If I
wished anyone to do her justice, I should say, as I have indeed said,
'Never read what she has written.' The letters, however, are individual,
and full, I should fancy, of that magnetic personal influence which was
so strong in her. I felt drawn in towards her, during our short
intercourse; I loved her, and the circumstances of her death shook me to
the very roots of my heart. The comfort is, that she lost little in this
world--the change could not be loss to her. She had suffered, and was
likely to suffer still more.

And now, am I to tell you that I have seen George Sand twice, and am to
see her again? Ah, there is no time to tell you, for I must shut up this
letter. She sate, like a priestess, the other morning in a circle of
eight or nine men, giving no oracles, except with her splendid eyes,
sitting at the corner of the fire, and warming her feet quietly, in a
general silence of the most profound deference. There was something in
the calm disdain of it which pleased me, and struck me as
characteristic. She was George Sand, that was enough: you wanted no
proof of it. Robert observed that 'if any other mistress of a house had
behaved so, he would have walked out of the room'--but, as it was, no
sort of incivility was meant. In fact, we hear that she 'likes us very
much,' and as we went away she called me 'chere Madame' and kissed me,
and desired to see us both again.

I did not read myself the passage in question from Miss M.'s book. I
couldn't make up my mind, my courage, to look at it. But I understood
from Robert.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

[Paris], 138 Avenue des Ch.-Elysees:
February 27, [1852].

I get your second letter, my dearest Mrs. Martin, before I answer your
first, which makes me rather ashamed.

 ... Dearest friend, it is true that I have seldom been so upset as by
this act of poor dear Miss Mitford's, and the very impossibility of
being vindictive on this occasion increased my agitation at the
moment....

There are defects in delicacy and apprehensiveness, one cannot deny it,
and yet I assure you that a more generous and fervent woman never lived
than dear Miss Mitford is, and if you knew her you would do her this
justice. She is better in herself than in her books--more large, more
energetic, more human altogether. I think I understand her better on the
whole than she understands me (which is not saying much), and I admire
her on various accounts. She talks better, for instance, than most
writers, male or female, whom I have had any intercourse with. And
affectionate in the extreme, she has always been to me.

So I have mystified you and disgusted you with my politics, and my
friends in England have put me in the corner; just so....

The French nation is very peculiar. We choose to boast ourselves of
being different in England, but we have simply _les qualites de nos
defauts_ after all. The clash of speculative opinions is dreadful here,
practical men catch at the ideal as if it were a loaf of bread, and they
literally set about cutting out their Romeos 'into little stars,' as if
that were the most natural thing in the world. As for the socialists, I
quite agree with you that various of them, yes, and some of their chief
men, are full of pure and noble aspiration, the most virtuous of men and
the most benevolent. Still, they hold in their hands, in their clean
hands, ideas that kill, ideas which defile, ideas which, if carried out,
would be the worst and most crushing kind of despotism. I would rather
live under the feet of the Czar than in those states of perfectibility
imagined by Fourier and Cabet, if I might choose my 'pis aller.' All
these speculators (even Louis Blanc, who is one of the most rational)
would revolutionalise, not merely countries, but the elemental
conditions of humanity, it seems to me; none of them seeing that
antagonism is necessary to all progress. A man, in walking, must set one
foot before another, and in climbing (as Dante observed long ago) the
foot behind 'e sempre il piu basso.' Only the gods (Plato tells us) keep
both feet joined together in moving onward. It is not so, and cannot be
so, with men.

But I think that not only in relation to the socialists, but to the
monarchies, is L.N. the choice of the French people. I think that they
will not _bear_ the monarchies, they will not have either of them, they
put them away. It seems to me that the French people is essentially
democratical, and that by the vote in question they never meant to give
away either rights or liberties. The extraordinary part of the actual
position is that the Government, with these ugly signs of despotism in
its face, stands upon the democracy (is no 'military despotism,'
therefore, in any sense, as the English choose to say), and may be
thrown, and will be thrown, on that day when it disappoints the popular
expectation. For my part, I am hopeful both for this reason and for
others. I hope we shall do better, when there is greater calm; that
presently there will be relaxation where there is stringency, and room
to breathe and speak. At present it is a dictatorship, and we can't
expect at such a time the ease and liberty of a regular government. The
constitution itself may be modified, as the very terms of it imply, and
the laws of the Press not carried out. Even as it is, all the English
papers, infamous in their abuse of the Government (because of their
falsifications and exaggerations properly called infamous) and highly
immoral in their tone towards France generally, come in as usual,
without an official finger being lifted up to hinder them. Louis
Philippe would not admit Punch, you remember, on account of a few
personal sarcasms....

So much there is to say, and the post going. Can you read as I write on
at a full gallop? Don't be out of heart. Do let us trust France--not L.
Napoleon, but _France_....

Dearest friends, think of me as your

Ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

[Paris], 138 Avenue des Ch.-Elysees:
April 7, 1852.

What a time seems to have passed since I wrote to you, my ever loved
friend! Again and again I have been on the point of writing, and
something has stopped me always. I have wished to wait till I had more
about this and that to gossip of, and so the time went on. Now I am
getting impatient to have news of you, and to learn whether the lovely
spring has brought you any good yet as to health and strength. Don't
take vengeance on my silence, but write, write....

Yes, I want to see Beranger, and so does Robert. George Sand we came to
know a great deal more of. I think Robert saw her six times. Once he
met her near the Tuileries, offered her his arm, and walked with her the
whole length of the gardens. She was not on that occasion looking as
well as usual, being a little too much 'endimanchee' in terrestrial
lavenders and supercelestial blues--not, in fact, dressed with the
remarkable taste which he has seen in her at other times. Her usual
costume is both pretty and quiet, and the fashionable waistcoat and
jacket (which are a spectacle in all the 'Ladies' Companions' of the
day) make the only approach to masculine _wearings_ to be observed in
her. She has great nicety and refinement in her personal ways, I think,
and the cigarette is really a feminine weapon if properly understood.
Ah, but I didn't see her smoke. I was unfortunate. I could only go with
Robert three times to her house, and once she was out. He was really
very good and kind to let me go at all, after he found the sort of
society rampant around her. He didn't like it extremely, but, being the
prince of husbands, he was lenient to my desires and yielded the point.
She seems to live in the abomination of desolation, as far as regards
society--crowds of ill-bred men who adore her _a genoux bas_, betwixt a
puff of smoke and an ejection of saliva. Society of the ragged Red
diluted with the lower theatrical. She herself so different, so apart,
as alone in her melancholy disdain! I was deeply interested in that poor
woman, I felt a profound compassion for her. I did not mind much the
Greek in Greek costume who tutoyed her, and kissed her, I believe, so
Robert said; or the other vulgar man of the theatre who went down on his
knees and called her 'sublime.' 'Caprice d'amitie,' said she, with her
quiet, gentle scorn. A noble woman under the mud, be certain. _I_ would
kneel down to her, too, if she would leave it all, throw it off, and be
herself as God made her. But she would not care for my kneeling; she
does not care for me. Perhaps she doesn't care for anybody by this
time--who knows? She wrote one, or two, or three kind notes to me, and
promised to 'venir m'embrasser' before she left Paris; but she did not
come. We both tried hard to please her, and she told a friend of ours
that she 'liked us'; only we always felt that we couldn't
penetrate--couldn't really _touch_ her--it was all vain. Her play
failed, though full of talent. It didn't draw, and was withdrawn
accordingly. I wish she would keep to her romances, in which her real
power lies.

We have found out Jadin, Alexandre Dumas' friend and companion in the
'_Speronare_.' He showed Robert at his house poor Louis Philippe's
famous 'umbrella,' and the Duke of Orleans' uniform, and the cup from
which Napoleon took his coffee, which stood beside him as he signed the
abdication. Then there was a picture of 'Milord' hanging up. I must go
to see too. Said Robert: 'Then Alexandre Dumas doesn't write romances
always?' (You know it was like a sudden spectacle of one of Leda's
eggs.) 'Indeed,' replied Jadin, 'he wrote the true history of his own
travels, only, of course, seeing everything, like a poet, from his own
point of view.' Alfred de Musset was to have been at M. Buloz's, where
Robert was a week ago, on purpose to meet him, but he was prevented in
some way. His brother Paul de Musset, a very different person, was there
instead--but we hope to have Alfred on another occasion. Do you know his
poems? He is not capable of large grasps, but he has poet's life and
blood in him, I assure you. He is said to be at the feet of Rachel just
now, and a man may nearly as well be with a tigress in a cage. He began
with the Princess Belgiojoso--followed George Sand--Rachel finishes, is
likely to 'finish' in every sense. In the intervals, he plays at chess.
There's the anatomy of a _man_!

We are expecting a visit from Lamartine, who does a great deal of honour
to both of us, it appears, in the way of appreciation, and is kind
enough to propose to come. I will tell you all about it.

But now tell _me_. Oh, I want so to hear how you are. Better, stronger,
I hope and trust. How does the new house and garden look in the spring?
Prettier and prettier, I dare say....

The dotation of the President is enormous certainly, and I wish for his
own sake it had been rather more moderate. Now I must end here. Post
hour strikes. God bless you.

Do love me as much as you can, always, and think how I am your ever
affectionate

BA.

Our darling is well; thank God.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

[Paris]: 138 Avenue des Ch.-Elysees:
April 12, Monday, 1852.

Your letter was pleasant and not so pleasant, dearest Monna Nina; for it
was not so pleasant indeed to hear how ill you had been--and yet to be
lifted into the hope, or rather certainty, of seeing you next week
pleased us extremely of course, and the more that your note through Lady
Lyell had thrown us backward into a slough of despond and made me
sceptical as to your coming here at all....

What a beautiful Paris it is! I walked out a little yesterday with
Robert, and we both felt penetrated with the sentiment of southern life
as we watched men, women, and children sitting out in the sun, taking
wine and coffee, and enjoying their _fete_ day with good happy faces.
The mixture of classes is to me one of the most delicious features of
the South, and you have it here exactly as in Italy. The colouring too,
the brightness, even the sun--oh, come and enjoy it all with us. We have
had a most splendid spring beginning with February. Still, I have been
out very seldom, being afraid of treacherous winds combined with burning
sunshine, but I have enjoyed the weather in the house and by opening
the windows, and have been revived and strengthened much by it, and
shall soon recover my summer power of walking, I dare say. What do you
think I did the other night? Went to the Vaudeville to see the 'Dame aux
Camelias' on above the fiftieth night of the representation. I disagree
with the common outcry about its immorality. According to my view, it is
moral and human. But I never will go to see it again, for it almost
broke my heart and split my head. I had a headache afterwards for
twenty-four hours. Even Robert, who gives himself out for _blase_ on
dramatic matters, couldn't keep the tears from rolling down his cheeks.
The exquisite acting, the too literal truth to nature everywhere, was
_exasperating_--there was something profane in such familiar handling of
life and death. Art has no business with real graveclothes when she
wants tragic drapery--has she? It was too much altogether like a bull
fight. There's a caricature at the shop windows of the effect produced,
the pit protecting itself with multitudinous umbrellas from the tears of
the boxes. This play is by Alexandre Dumas _fils_--and is worthy by its
talent of Alexandre Dumas _pere_.

Only that once have I been in a Parisian theatre. I couldn't go even to
see 'Les Vacances de Pandolphe' when George Sand had the goodness to
send us tickets for the first night. She failed in it, I am sorry to
say--it did not 'draw,' as the phrase is. Now she has left Paris, but is
likely to return.

I am sure it will do you great good to have change and liberty and
distraction in various ways. The '_anxiety_' you speak of--oh, I do hope
it does not relate to Gerardine. I always think of her when you seem
anxious.

I shall be very glad if, when you come, you should be inclined to give
your attention, you with your honest and vigorous mind, to the facts of
the political situation, not the facts as you hear them from the
English, or from our friend Madme Mohl, who confessed to me one day
that she liked exaggerations because she hated the President. She is a
clever shrewd woman, but most eminently and on all subjects a woman; her
passions having her thoughts inside them, instead of her thoughts her
passions. That's the common distinction between women and men, is it
not?

Robert, too, will tell you that he hates all Buonapartes, past, present,
or to come, but then _he_ says _that_ in his self-willed, pettish way,
as a manner of dismissing a subject he won't think about--and knowing
very well that he doesn't think about it, not mistaking a feeling for a
reason, not for a moment. There's the difference between women and men.

Well, but you won't come here to knit your brows about politics, but
rather to forget all sorts of anxieties and distresses, and be well and
happy, I do hope. You deserve a holiday after all that work. God bless
you, dear friend.

Our united love goes to you and stays with you.

Your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mulock_

[Paris]: 138 Avenue des Champs-Elysees:
April 27, [1852].

I am afraid you must think me--what can you have thought of me for not
immediately answering a letter which brought the tears both to my eyes
and my husband's? I was going to write just _so_, but he said: 'No, do
not write yet; wait till we get the book and then you can speak of it
with knowledge.' And I waited.

But the misfortune is that Messrs. Chapman & Hall waited too, and that
up to the present time 'The Head of the Family' has not arrived. Mr.
Chapman is slow in finding what he calls his opportunities.

Therefore I can't wait any more, no indeed. The voice which called
'Dinah' in the garden--which was true, because certainly I did call from
Florence with my whole heart to the writer of these verses[13] (how
deeply they moved me!)--will have seemed to you by this time as fabulous
as the garden itself. And we had no garden at Florence, I must confess
to you, only a terrace facing the grey wall of San Felice church, where
we used to walk up and down on the moonlight nights. But San Felice was
always a good saint to me, and when I had read and cried over those
verses from the 'Athenaeum' (my husband wrote them out for me at the
reading room) and when I had vainly written to England to find out the
poet, and when I had all as vainly, on our visit to England last summer,
inquired of this person and that person, it turns out after all that
'Dinah' answers me. Do you not think I am glad?

The beautiful verses touched me to the quick, so does your letter. We
shall be in London again perhaps in two months for a few weeks, and then
you will let us see you, I hope, will you not? And, in the meanwhile,
you will believe that we do not indeed think of you as a stranger. Ah,
your dream flattered me in certain respects! Yet there was some truth in
it, as I have told you, even though you saw in the dreamlight more roses
than were growing.

Certainly Mr. Chapman will at last send me 'The Head of the Family,' and
then I will write again of course.

Dear Miss Mulock, may I write myself down now, because I _must_,

Affectionately yours and gratefully,
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.


       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

[Paris],138 Avenue des Ch.-Elysees:
May 9, [1852].

I began a long letter to you in the impulse left by yours upon me, and
then destroyed it by accident. That hindered me from writing as soon as
I should have done, for indeed I am anxious to have other news of you,
my dearest dear Miss Mitford, and to know, if possible, that you are a
little better.... Tell me everything. Why, you looked really well last
summer; and I want to see you looking well this summer, for we shall
probably be in London in June--more's the pity, perhaps! The gladness I
have in England is so leavened through and through with sadness that I
incline to do with it as one does with the black bread of the monks of
Vallombrosa, only pretend to eat it and drop it slyly under the table.
If it were not for some ties I would say 'Farewell, England,' and never
set foot on it again. There's always an east wind for _me_ in England,
whether the sun shines or not--the moral east wind which is colder than
any other. But how dull to go on talking of the weather: _Sia come
vuole_, as we say in Italy.

To-morrow is the great _fete_ of your Louis Napoleon, the distribution
of the eagles. We have done our possible and impossible to get tickets,
because I had taken strongly into my head to want to go, and because
Robert, who didn't care for it himself, cared for it for me; but here's
the eleventh hour and our prospects remain gloomy. We did not apply
sufficiently soon, I am afraid, and the name of the applicants has been
legion. It will be a grand sight, and full of significances.
Nevertheless, the empire won't come _so_; you will have to wait a little
for the Empire. Who were your financial authorities who praised Louis
Napoleon? and do the same approve of the late measure about the three
per cents.? I am so absolutely _bete_ upon such subjects that I don't
even _pretend_ to be intelligent; but I heard yesterday from a direct
source that Rothschild expressed a high admiration of the President's
financial ability. A friend of that master in Israel said it to our
friend Lady Elgin. Commerce is reviving, money is pouring in, confidence
is being restored on all sides. Even the Press palpitates again--ah, but
I wish it were a little freer of the corset. This Government is not
after my heart after all. I only tolerate what appear to me the
necessities of an exceptional situation. The masses are satisfied and
hopeful, and the President stronger and stronger--not by the sword, may
it please the English Press, but by the democracy.

I am delighted to see that the French Government has protested against
the reactionary iniquities of the Tuscan Grand Duke, and every day I
expect eagerly some helping hand to be stretched out to Rome. I have
looked for this from the very first, and certainly it is significant
that the Prince of Canino, the late President of the Roman Republic,
should be in favour at the Elysee. Pio Nono's time is but short, I
fancy--that is, reforms will be forced upon him.

When George Sand had audience with the President, he was very kind; did
I tell you that? At the last he said: 'Vous verrez, vous serez contente
de moi.' To which she answered, 'Et vous, vous serez content de moi.' It
was repeated to me as to the great dishonour of Madame Sand, and as a
proof that she could not resist the influence of power and was a bad
republican. I, on the contrary, thought the story quite honourable to
both parties. It was for the sake of her _rouge_ friends that she
approached the President at all, and she has used the hand he stretched
out to her only on behalf of persons in prison and distress. The same,
being delivered, call her gratefully a recreant.

Victor Cousin and Villemain refuse to take the oath, and lose their
situations in the Academy accordingly; but they retire on pensions, and
it's their own fault of course. Michelet and Quinet should have an
equivalent, I think, for what they have lost; they are worthy, as poets,
orators, dreamers, speculative thinkers--as anything, in fact, but
instructors of youth.

No, there is a brochure, or a little book somewhere, pretending to be a
memoir of Balzac, but I have not seen it. Some time before his death he
had bought a country place, and there was a fruit tree in the garden--I
think a walnut tree--about which he delighted himself in making various
financial calculations after the manner of Cesar Birotteau. He built the
house himself, and when it was finished there was just one defect--it
wanted a staircase. They had to put in the staircase afterwards. The
picture gallery, however, had been seen to from the first, and the great
writer had chalked on the walls, 'Mon Raffaelle,' 'Mon Correge,' 'Mon
Titien,' 'Mon Leonard de Vinci,' the pictures being yet unattained. He
is said to have been a little loth to spend money, and to have liked to
dine magnificently at the restaurant at the expense of his friends,
forgetting to pay for his own share of the entertainment. For the rest,
the 'idee fixe' of the man was to be rich one day, and he threw his
subtle imagination and vital poetry into pounds, shillings, and pence
with such force that he worked the base element into spiritual
splendours. Oh! to think of our having missed seeing that man. It is
painful. A little book is published of his 'thoughts and maxims,' the
sweepings of his desk I suppose; broken notes, probably, which would
have been wrought up into some noble works, if he had lived. Some of
these are very striking.

Lamartine has not yet paid us the promised visit. Just as we were
beginning to feel vexed we heard that the intermediate friend who was to
have brought him had been caught up by the Government and sent off to
Saint-Germain to 'faire le mort,' on pain of being sent farther. I mean
Eugene Belleton. If he talked in many places as he talked in this room,
I can't be very much surprised, but I am really very sorry. He is one of
those amiable domestic men who delight in talking 'battle, murder, and
sudden death.'

[_The end of this letter is wanting_]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mulock_

[Paris], 138 Avenue des Champs-Elysees:
June 2, [1852].

My husband went directly to Rue Vivienne and came back without the book.
We waited and waited, but at last it reached us, and we have read it,
and since then I have let some days go by through having been unwell.
You seemed to let me sit still in my chair and do nothing; you did not
call too loud. So was it with most other things in the universe. Now,
having awakened from my somnolency, recovered from 'La Grippe' (or what
mortal Londoners call the influenza), the first person and first book I
think of must naturally be you and yours.

So I thank you much, much, for the book. It has interested me, dear Miss
Mulock, as a book should, and I am delighted to recognise everywhere
undeniable talent and faculty, combined with high and pure aspiration. A
clever book, a graceful book, and with the moral grace besides--thank
you. Many must have thanked you as well as myself.

At the same time, precisely because I feel particularly obliged to you,
I mean to tell you the truth. Your hero is heroic from his own point of
view--accepting his own view of the situation, which I, for one, cannot
accept, do you know, for I am of opinion that both you and he are rather
conventional on the subject of his marriage. I don't in the least
understand, at this moment, why he should not have married in the first
volume; no, not in the least. It was a matter of income, he would tell
me, and of keeping two establishments; and I would answer that it ought
rather to have been a matter of faith in God and in the value of God's
gifts, the greatest of which is love. I am romantic about love--oh, much
more than you are, though older than you. A man's life does not develop
rightly without it, and what is called an 'improvident marriage' often
appears to me a noble, righteous, and prudent act. Your Ninian was a man
before he was a brother. I hold that he had no right to sacrifice a
great spiritual good of his own to the worldly good of his family,
however he made it out. He should have said: 'God gives me this gift, He
will find me energy to work for it and suffer for it. We will all live
together, struggle together if it is necessary, a little more poorly, a
little more laboriously, but keeping true to the best aims of life, all
of us.'

That's what _my_ Ninian would have said. I don't like to see noble
Ninians crushed flat under family Juggernauts, from whatever heroic
motives--not I. Do you forgive me for being so candid?

I must tell you that Mrs. Jameson, who is staying in this house, read
your book in England and mentioned it to me as a good book, 'very
gracefully written,' before I read it, quite irrespectively, too, of my
dedication, which was absent from the copy she saw at Brighton. It was
mentioned as one of the novels which had pleased her most lately.

I shall like to show you my child, as you like children, and as I am
vain--oh, past endurance vain, about him. You won't understand a word he
says, though, for he speaks three languages at once, and most of the
syllables of each wrong side foremost.

No, don't call me a Bonapartist. I am not a Bonapartist indeed. But I am
a Democrat and singularly (in these days) consequent about universal
suffrage. Also, facts in England have been much mis-stated; but there's
no room for politics to-day.

When I thank you, remember that my husband thanks you. We both hope to
see you before this month shall be quite at an end, and then you will
know me better, I hope; and though I shall lose a great deal by your
knowing me, of course, yet you won't, _after that_, make such mistakes
as you 'confess' in this note which I have just read over again. Did I
think you 'sentimental'? Won't you rather think _me_ sentimental to-day?
Through it all,

Your affectionate
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

[Paris], 138 Avenue des Champs-Elysees:
June 16, [1852].

My first word must be to thank you, my dearest kind friend, for your
affectionate words to me and mine, which always, from you, sink deeply.
It was, on my part, great gratification to see you and talk to you and
hear you talk, and, above all, perhaps, to feel that you loved me still
a little. May God bless you both! And may we meet again and again in
Paris and elsewhere; in London this summer to begin with! As the
Italians would say in relation to any like pleasure: 'Sarebbe una
_benedizione_.'

We are waiting for the English weather to be reported endurable in order
to set out. Mrs. Streatfield, who has been in England these twelve days,
writes to certify that it is past the force of a Parisian imagination to
imagine the state of the skies and the atmosphere; yet, even in Paris,
we have been moaning the last four days, because really, since then, we
have gone back to April, and a rather cool April, with alternate showers
and sunshine--a crisis, however, which does not call for fires, nor
inflict much harm on me. It was the thunder, we think, that upset the
summer.

You seem to have had a sort of inkling about my brittleness when you
were here. It was the beginning of a bad attack of cough and pain in the
side, the consequence of which was that I turned suddenly into the
likeness of a ghost and frightened Robert from his design of going to
England. About that I am by no means regretful; he was not wanted, as
the event proved abundantly. The worst was that he was annoyed by the
number of judicious observers and miserable comforters who told him I
was horribly changed and ought to be taken back to Italy forthwith. I
knew it was nothing but an accidental attack, and that the results would
pass away, as they did. I kept quiet, applied mustard poultices, and am
now looking again (tell dear Mr. Martin) 'as if I had shammed.' So all
these misfortunes are strictly historical, you are to understand.
To-night we are going to Ary Scheffer's to hear music and to see ever so
many celebrities. Oh, and let me remember to tell you that M. Thierry,
the blind historian, has sent us a message by his physician to ask us to
go to see him, and as a matter of course we go. Madame Viardot, the
prima donna, and Leonard, the first violin player at the Conservatoire,
are to be at M. Scheffer's.

After all, you are too right. The less amused I am, clearly the better
for me. I should live ever so many years more by being shut up in a
hermitage, if it were warm and dry. More's the pity, when one wants to
see and hear as I do. The only sort of excitement and fatigue which does
me no harm, but good, is _travelling_. The effect of the continual
change of air is to pour in oil as the lamp burns; so I explain the
extraordinary manner in which I bear the fatigue of being
four-and-twenty hours together in a diligence, for instance, which many
strong women would feel too much for them.

All this talking of myself when I want to talk of you and to tell you
how touched I was by the praises of your winning little Letitia!
Enclosed is a note to Chapman & Hall which will put her 'bearer' (if she
can find one in London) in possession of the two volumes in question. I
shall like her to have them, and she must try to find my love, as the
King of France did the poison (a 'most unsavoury simile,' certainly),
between the leaves. I send with them, in any case, my best love. Ah, so
sorry I am that she has suffered from the weather you have had. She is a
most interesting child, and of a nature which is rare....

Robert's warm regards, with those of your

Ever affectionate and grateful
BA.

Madame Viardot is George Sand's heroine Consuelo. You know that
beautiful book.

       *       *       *       *       *


With the last days of June the long stay in Paris came to an end, and
the Brownings paid their second visit to London. Their residence on this
occasion was at 58 Welbeck Street ('very respectable rooms this time,
and at a moderate price'), and here they stayed until the beginning of
November. Neither husband nor wife seems to have written much poetry
during this year, either in Paris or in London.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

[London], 58 Welbeck Street: Saturday,
[June-July 1852].

 ... We saw your book in Paris, the Galignani edition, and I read it all
except the one thing I had not courage to read. Thank you, thank you. We
are both of us grateful to you for your most generous and heartwarm
intentions to us. As to the book, it's a book made to go east and west;
it's a popular book with flowers from the 'village' laid freshly and
brightly between the critical leaves. I don't always agree with you. I
think, for instance, that Mary Anne Browne should never be compared to
George Sand in 'passion,' and I can't grant to you that your extracts
from her poems bear you out to even one fiftieth degree in such an
opinion. I agree with you just as little with regard to Dr. Holmes and
certain others. But to _have_ your opinion is always a delightful thing,
and 'it is characteristic of your generosity,' to say the least, we say
to ourselves when we are 'dissidents' most.

I am writing in the extremest haste, just a word to announce our arrival
in England. We are in very comfortable rooms in 58 Welbeck Street, and
my sister Henrietta is some twenty doors away. To-morrow Robert and I
are going to Wimbledon for a day to dear Mr. Kenyon, who looks radiantly
well and has Mr. Landor for a companion just now. Imagine the uproar and
turmoil of our first days in London, and believe that I think of you
faithfully and tenderly through all. I am overjoyed to see my sisters,
who look well on the whole ... and they and everybody assure me that I
show a very satisfactory face to my country, as far as improved looks
go.

What nonsense one writes when one has but a moment to write in. I find
people talking about the 'facts in the "Times"' touching Louis Napoleon.
Facts in the 'Times'!

The heat is _stifling_. Do send one word to say how you are, and love me
always as I love you.

Your most affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

58 Welbeck Street: Friday, July 31, 1852 [postmark].

I want to hear about you again, dear, dearest Miss Mitford, and I can't
hear. Will you send me a line or a word.... I mean to go down to see you
one day, but certainly we must account it right not to tire you while
you are weak, and not to spoil our enjoyment by forestalling it. Two
months are full of days; we can afford to wait. Meantime let us have a
little gossip such as the gods allow of.

Dear Mr. Kenyon has not yet gone to Scotland, though his intentions
still stand north. He passed an evening with us some evenings ago, and
was brilliant and charming (the two things together), and good and
affectionate at the same time. Mr. Landor was staying with him (perhaps
I told you that), and went away into Worcestershire, assuring me, when
he took leave of me, that he would never enter London again. A week
passes, and lo! Mr. Kenyon expects him again. Resolutions are not always
irrevocable, you observe.

I must tell you what Landor said about Louis Napoleon. You are aware
that he loathed the first Napoleon and that he hates the French nation;
also, he detests the present state of French affairs, and has foamed
over in the 'Examiner' 'in prose and rhyme' on the subject of them.
Nevertheless, he who calls 'the Emperor' 'an infernal fool' expresses
himself to this effect about the President: 'I always knew him to be a
man of wonderful genius. I knew him intimately, and I was persuaded of
what was in him. When people have said to me, "How can you like to waste
your time with so trifling a man?" I have answered: "If all your Houses
of Parliament, putting their heads together, could make a head equal to
this trifling man's head it would be well for England."

It was quite unexpected to me to hear Mr. Landor talk so.

He, Mr. Landor, is looking as young as ever, as full of life and
passionate energy.

Did Mr. Horne write to you before he went to Australia? Did I speak to
you about his going? Did you see the letter which he put into the papers
as a farewell to England? I think of it all sadly.

Mazzini came to see us the other day, with that pale spiritual face of
his, and those intense eyes full of melancholy illusions. I was
thinking, while he sate there, on what Italian turf he would lie at last
with a bullet in his heart, or perhaps with a knife in his back, for to
one of those ends it will surely come. Mrs. Carlyle came with him. She
is a great favorite of mine: full of thought, and feeling, and
character, it seems to me.

London is emptying itself, and the relief will be great in a certain
way; for one gets exhausted sometimes. Let me remember whom I have seen.
Mrs. Newton Crosland, who spoke of you very warmly; Miss Mulock, who
wrote 'The Ogilvies' (that series of novels), and is interesting,
gentle, and young, and seems to have worked half her life in spite of
youth; Mr. Field we have not seen, only heard of; Miss ----, no--but I
am to see her, I understand, and that she is an American Corinna in
yellow silk, but pretty. We drove out to Kensington with Monckton Milnes
and his wife, and I like her; she is quiet and kind, and seems to have
accomplishments, and we are to meet Fanny Kemble at the Procters some
day next week. Many good faces, but the best wanting. Ah, I wish Lord
Stanhope, who shows the spirits of the sun in a crystal ball, could show
us _that_! Have you heard of the crystal ball?[14] We went to meet it
and the seer the other morning, with sundry of the believers and
unbelievers--among the latter, chief among the latter, Mr. Chorley, who
was highly indignant and greatly scandalised, particularly on account of
the combination sought to be established by the lady of the house
between lobster salad and Oremus, spirit of the sun. For my part, I
endured both luncheon and spiritual phenomena with great equanimity. It
was very curious altogether to my mind, as a sign of the times, if in no
other respect of philosophy. But I love the marvellous. Write a word to
me, I beseech you, and love me and think of me, as I love and think of
you. God bless you. Robert's love.

Your ever affectionate
BA.


       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

58 Welbeck Street: Tuesday, [July-October 1852].

Dearest Monna Nina,--Here are the verses. I did them all because that
was easiest to me, but of course you will extract the two you want.

It has struck me besides that you might care to see this old ballad
which I find among my papers from one of the Percy or other antiquarian
Society books, and which I transcribed years ago, modernising slightly
in order to make out some sort of rhythm as I went on. I did this
because the original poem impressed me deeply with its pathos. I wish I
could send you the antique literal poem, but I haven't it, nor know
where to find it; still, I don't think I quite spoilt it with the very
slight changes ventured by me in the transcription.

God bless you. Let us meet on Wednesday. Robert's best love, with that
of your ever affectionate

BA.


    STABAT MATER

    Mother full of lamentation,
    Near that cross she wept her passion,
      Whereon hung her child and Lord.
    Through her spirit worn and wailing,
    Tortured by the stroke and failing,
      Passed and pierced the prophet's sword.

    Oh, sad, sore, above all other,
    Was that ever blessed mother
      Of the sole-begotten one;
    She who mourned and moaned and trembled
    While she measured, nor dissembled,
      Such despairs of such a son!

    Where's the man could hold from weeping,
    If Christ's mother he saw keeping
      Watch with mother-heart undone?
    Who could hold from grief, to view her,
    Tender mother true and pure,
      Agonising with her Son?

    For her people's sins she saw Him
    Down the bitter deep withdraw Him
      'Neath the scourge and through the dole!
    Her sweet Son she contemplated
    Nailed to death, and desolated,
      While He breathed away His soul.

    E.B.B.


    BALLAD--_Beginning of Edward II.'s Reign_

    'Stand up, mother, under cross,
    Smile to help thy Son at loss.
      Blythe, O mother, try to be!'
    'Son, how can I blythely stand,
    Seeing here Thy foot and hand
      Nailed to the cruel tree?'

    'Mother, cease thy weeping blind.
    I die here for all mankind,
      Not for guilt that I have done.'
    'Son, I feel Thy deathly smart.
    The sword pierces through my heart,
      Prophesied by Simeon.'

    'Mother, mercy! let me die,
    Adam out of hell to buy,
      And his kin who are accurst.'
    'Son, what use have I for breath?
    Sorrow wasteth me to death--
      Let my dying come the first.'

    'Mother, pity on thy Son!
    Bloody tears be running down
      Worse to bear than death to meet!'
    'Son, how can I cease from weeping?
    Bloody streams I see a-creeping
      From Thine heart against my feet.'

    'Mother, now I tell thee, I!
    Better is it one should die
      Than all men to hell should go.'
    'Son, I see Thy body hang
    Foot and hand in pierced pang.
      Who can wonder at my woe?'

    'Mother, now I will thee tell,
    If I live, thou goest to hell--
      I must die here for thy sake.'
    'Son, Thou art so mild and kind,
    Nature, knowledge have enjoined
      I, for Thee, this wail must make.'

    'Mother, ponder now this thing:
    Sorrow childbirth still must bring,
      Sorrow 'tis to have a son!'
    'Ay, still sorrow, I can tell!
    Mete it by the pain of hell,
      Since more sorrow can be none.'

    'Mother, pity mother's care!
    Now as mother dost thou fare,
      Though of maids the purest known.'
    'Son, Thou help at every need
    All those who before me plead--
      Maid, wife--woman, everyone.'

    'Mother, here I cannot dwell.
    Time is that I pass to hell,
      And the third day rise again.'
    'Son, I would depart with Thee.
    Lo! Thy wounds are slaying me.
      Death has no such sorrow--none.'

    When He rose, then fell her sorrow.
    Sprang her bliss on the third morrow.
      A blythe mother wert thou so!
    Lady, for that selfsame bliss,
    Pray thy Son who peerless is,
      Be our shield against our foe.

    Blessed be thou, full of bliss!
    Let us not heaven's safety miss,
      Never! through thy sweet Son's might.
    Jesus, for that selfsame blood
    Which Thou sheddest upon rood,
      Bring us to the heavenly light.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

58 Welbeck Street: Thursday, [September 2, 1852].

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--Your letters always make me glad to see them,
but this time the pleasure was tempered by an undeniable pain in the
conscience. Oh, I ought to have written long and long ago. I have
another letter of yours unanswered. Also, there was a proposition in it
to Robert of a tempting character, and he put off the 'no'--the
ungracious-sounding 'no'--as long as he could. He would have liked to
have seen Mrs. Flood, as well as you; she is a favorite with us both.
But he finds it impossible to leave London. We have had no less than
eight invitations into the country, and we are forced to keep to London,
in spite of all 'babbling about' and from 'green fields.' Once we went
to Farnham, and spent two days with Mr. and Mrs. Paine there in that
lovely heathy country, and met Mr. Kingsley, the 'Christian Socialist,'
author of 'Alton Locke,' 'Yeast,' &c. It is only two hours from town (or
less) by railroad, and we took our child with us and Flush, and had a
breath of fresh air which ought to have done us good, but didn't. Few
men have impressed me more agreeably than Mr. Kingsley. He is original
and earnest, and full of a genial and almost tender kindliness which is
delightful to me. Wild and theoretical in many ways he is of course, but
I believe he could not be otherwise than good and noble, let him say or
dream what he will. You are not to confound this visit of ours to
Farnham with the 'sanitary reform' picnic (!) to the same place, at
which the newspapers say we were present. We were _invited_--that is
true--but did not go, nor thought of it. I am not up to picnics--nor
_down_ to some of the company perhaps; who knows? Don't think me grown,
too, suddenly scornful, without being sure of the particulars....

Mr. Tennyson has a little son, and wrote me such three happy notes on
the occasion that I really never liked him so well before. I do like men
who are not ashamed to be happy beside a cradle. Monckton Milnes had a
brilliant christening luncheon, and his baby was made to sweep in India
muslin and Brussels lace among a very large circle of admiring guests.
Think of my vanity turning my head completely and admitting of my taking
Wiedeman there (because of an express invitation). He behaved like an
angel, everybody said, and looked very pretty, I said myself; only he
disgraced us all at last by refusing to kiss the baby, on the ground of
his being 'troppo grande.' He has learnt quantities of English words,
and is in consequence more unintelligible than ever. Poor darling! I am
in pain about him to-day. Wilson goes to spend a fortnight with her
mother, and I don't know how I shall be comforter enough. There will be
great wailing and gnashing of teeth certainly, and I shall be in prison
for the next two weeks, and have to do all the washing and dressing
myself....

Your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

58 Welbeck Street:
Saturday, September 14, 1852 [postmark].

My dearest Miss Mitford,--I am tied and bound beyond redemption for the
next fortnight at least, therefore the hope of seeing you must be for
_afterwards_. I dare say you think that a child can be stowed away like
other goods; but I do assure you that my child, though quite capable of
being amused by his aunts for a certain number of half-hours, would
break his little heart if I left him for a whole day while he had not
Wilson. When she is here, he is contented. In her absence he is
sceptical about happiness, and suspicious of complete desolation. Every
now and then he says to me, 'Will mama' (saying it in his pretty,
broken, unquotable language) 'go away and leave Peninni all alone?' He
won't let a human being touch him. I wash and dress him, and have him to
sleep with me, and Robert is the only other helper he will allow of.
'There's spoiling of a child!' say you. But he is so good and tender and
sensitive that we can't go beyond a certain line. For instance, I was
quite frightened about the effect of Wilson's leaving him. We managed to
prepare him as well as we could, and when he found she was actually
gone, the passion of grief I had feared was just escaped. He struggled
with himself, the eyes full of tears, and the lips quivering, but there
was not any screaming and crying such as made me cry last year on a like
occasion. He had made up his mind.

You see I can't go to you just now, whatever temptations you hold out.
Wait--oh, we must wait. And whenever I do go to you, you will see Robert
at the same time. He will like to see _you_; and besides, he would as
soon trust me to travel to Reading alone as I trust Peninni to be alone
here. I believe he thinks I should drop off my head and leave it under
the seat of the rail-carriage if he didn't take care of it....

I ought to have told you that Mr. Kingsley (one of the reasons why I
liked him) spoke warmly and admiringly of you. Yes, I ought to have told
you that--his praise is worth having. Of course I have heard much of Mr.
Harness from Mr. Kenyon and you, as well as from my own husband. But
there is no use in measuring temptations; I am a female St. Anthony, and
_won't_ be overcome. The Talfourds wanted me to dine with them on
Monday. Robert goes alone. You don't mention Mr. Chorley. Didn't he find
his way to you?

Mr. Patmore told us that Tennyson was writing a poem on Arthur--_not_ an
epic, a collection of poems, ballad and otherwise, united by the
subject, after the manner of 'In Memoriam,' but in different measures.
The work will be full of beauty, whatever it is, I don't doubt.

I am reading more Dumas. He never flags. I _must_ see Dumas when I go
again to Paris, and it will be easy, as we know his friend Jadin.

Did you read Mrs. Norton's last book--the novel, which seems to be so
much praised? Tell me what it is, in your mind....

I will write no more, that you may have the answer to my kind
proposition as soon as possible. _After the fortnight._

God bless you.

Your ever affectionate
E.B.B.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

58 Welbeck Street: Tuesday, [September 1852].

Alas, no; I cannot go to you before the Saturday you name, nor for some
days after, dearest friend. It is simply impossible. Wilson has not come
back, nor will till the end of next week, and though I can get away from
my child for two or three hours at once during the daytime, for the
whole day I could not go. What would become of him, poor darling?...

And I can't go to you this week, nor next week, probably. How vexatious!
My comfort is that you seem to be better--much, much better--and that
you have courage to think of the pony carriages and the Kingsleys of the
earth. That man impressed me much, interested me much. The more you see
of him, the more you will like him, is my prophecy. He has a volume of
poems, I hear, close upon publication, and Robert and I are looking
forward to it eagerly.

Mr. Ruskin has been to see us (did I tell you that?)... We went to
Denmark Hill yesterday by agreement, to see the Turners--which, by the
way, are divine. I like Mr. Ruskin much, and so does Robert. Very
gentle, yet earnest--refined and truthful. I like him very much. We
count him among the valuable acquaintances made this year in England....

Mr. Kenyon has come back, and most other people are gone away; but he is
worth more than most other people, so the advantage remains to the
scale. I am delighted that you should have your dear friend Mr. Harness
with you, and, for my own part, I do feel grateful to him for the good
he has evidently done you. Oh, continue to be better! Don't overtire
yourself--don't use improvidently the new strength. Remember the winter,
and be wise; and let me see you, before it comes, looking as bright and
well as I thought you last year. God bless you always.

Love your ever affectionate
BA.

Robert's love.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

London: Friday, [October 6, 1852].

My dearest Miss Mitford,--I am quite in pain to have to write a farewell
to you after all. As soon as Wilson had returned--and she stayed away
much longer than last year--we found ourselves pushed to the edge of our
time for remaining in England, and the accumulation of business to be
done before we could go pressed on us. I am almost mad with the amount
of things to be done, as it is; but I should have put the visit to you
at the head of them, and swept all the rest on one side for a day, if it
hadn't been for the detestable weather, and my horrible cough which
combines with it. When Wilson came back she found me coughing in my old
way, and it has been without intermission up to now, or rather waxing
worse and worse. To have gone down to you and inflicted the noise of it
on you would have simply made you nervous, while the risk to myself
would have been very great indeed. Still, I have waited and waited,
feeling it scarcely possible to write to you to say, 'I am not coming
this year.' Ah, I am so very sorry and disappointed! I hoped against
hope for a break in the weather, and an improvement in myself; now we
must go, and there is no hope. For about a fortnight I have been a
prisoner in the house. This climate won't let me live, there's the
truth. So we are going on Monday. We go to Paris for a week or two, and
then to Florence, and then to Rome, and then to Naples; but we shall be
back next year, if God pleases, and then I shall seize an early summer
day to run down straight to you and find you stronger, if God blesses me
so far. Think of me and love me a little meanwhile. I shall do it by
you. And do, _do_--since there is no time to hear from you in
London--send a fragment of a note to Arabel for me, that I may have it
in Paris before we set out on our long Italian journey. Let me have the
comfort of knowing exactly how you are before we set out. As for me, I
expect to be better on crossing the Channel. How people manage to live
and enjoy life in this fog and cold is inexplicable to me. I understand
the system of the American rapping spirits considerably better....

The Tennysons in their kindest words pressed us to be present at their
child's christening, which took place last Tuesday, but I could not go;
it was not possible. Robert went alone, therefore, and nursed the baby
for ten or twelve minutes, to its obvious contentment, he flatters
himself. It was christened Hallam Tennyson. Mr. Hallam was the
godfather, and present in his vocation. That was touching, wasn't it? I
hear that the Laureate talks vehemently against the French President and
the French; but for the rest he is genial and good, and has been quite
affectionate to us....

So I go without seeing you. Grieved I am. Love me to make amends.

Robert's love goes with me.

Your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To John Kenyon_

[Paris,] Hotel de la Ville-l'Eveque, Rue Ville-l'Eveque:
Thursday, [November 1852].

My dearest Mr. Kenyon,--I cannot do better to-day than keep my promise
to you about writing. We have done our business in Paris, but we linger
from the inglorious reason that we, experienced travellers as we are,
actually left a desk behind us in Bentinck Street, and must get it
before we go farther. Meanwhile, it's rather dangerous to let the charm
of Paris work--the honey will be clogging our feet very soon, and make
it difficult to go away. What an attractive place this is, to be sure!
How the sun shines, how the blue sky spreads, how the life lives, and
how kind the people are on all sides! If we were going anywhere but to
Italy, and if I were a little less plainly mortal with this disagreeable
cough of mine, I would gladly stay and see in the Empire with M.
Proudhon in the tail of it, and sit as a watcher over whatever things
shall be this year and next spring at Paris. As it is, we have been very
fortunate, as usual, in being present in a balcony on the boulevard, the
best place possible for seeing the grandest spectacle in the world, the
reception of Louis Napoleon last Saturday. The day was brilliant, and
the sweep of sunshine over the streaming multitude, and all the military
and civil pomp, made it difficult to distinguish between the light and
life. The sunshine seemed literally to push back the houses to make room
for the crowd, and the wide boulevards looked wider than ever. If you
had cursed the sentiment of the day ever so, you would have had eyes for
its picturesqueness, I think, so I wish you had been there to see.
Louis Napoleon showed his usual tact and courage by riding on horseback
quite alone, at least ten paces between himself and his nearest escort,
which of course had a striking effect, taking the French on their weak
side, and startling even Miss Cushman (who had been murmuring
displeasure into my ear for an hour) into an exclamation of 'That's
fine, I must say.' Little Wiedeman was in a state of ecstasy, and has
been recounting ever since how he called '"Vive Napoleon!" _molto molto
duro_,' meaning _very loud_ (his Italian is not very much more correct,
you know, than his other languages), and how Napoleon took off his hat
to him directly. I don't see the English papers, but I conclude you are
all furious. You must make up your minds to it nevertheless--the Empire
is certain, and the feeling of all but unanimity (whatever the motive)
throughout France obvious enough. Smooth down the lion's mane of the
'Examiner,' and hint that roaring over a desert is a vain thing. As to
Victor Hugo's book, the very enemies of the present state of affairs
object to it that _he lies_ simply. There is not enough truth in it for
an invective to rest on, still less for an argument. It's an
inarticulate cry of a bird of prey, wild and strong irrational, and not
a book at all. For my part I did wave my handkerchief for the new
Emperor, but I bore the show very well, and said to myself, 'God bless
the people!' as the man who, to my apprehension, represents the
democracy, went past. A very intelligent Frenchman, caught in the crowd
and forced to grope his way slowly along, told me that the expression of
opinion everywhere was curiously the same, not a dissenting mutter did
he hear. Strange, strange, all this! For the drama of history we must
look to France, for startling situations, for the 'points' which thrill
you to the bone....

May God bless you meantime! Take care of yourself for the sake of us all
who love you, none indeed more affectionately and gratefully than

R.B. and E.B.B.


FOOTNOTES:

[1] The Holy Scriptures.

[2] Miss Haworth was a friend of Mr. Browning from very early days, and
was commemorated by him in 'Sordello' under the name of 'Eyebright' (see
Mrs. Orr's _Life_, p. 86). Her acquaintance with Mrs. Browning began
with this visit to London, and ripened into a warm friendship. One
subject of interest which they had in common was mesmerism, with the
attendant mysteries of spiritualism and Swedenborgianism; and references
to these are frequent in Mrs. Browning's letters to her.

[3] So spelt in the earlier letters, but subsequently modified to
'Penini.'

[4] Miss Mitford had lately moved into her new home at Swallowfield,
about three miles from the old cottage at Three Mile Cross, commemorated
in 'Our Village.'

[5] The article was by M. Joseph Milsand, and led to the formation of
the warm friendship between him and Mr. Browning which lasted until the
death of the former in 1886.

[6] The May edict restricted the franchise to electors who had resided
three years in the same district. In October Louis Napoleon proposed to
repeal it, and the refusal of the Assembly no doubt strengthened his
hold on the democracy.

[7] The _coup d'etat_ took place in the early morning of December 2.

[8] The constitution of 1848.

[9] The point was rather whether they had the _power_.

[10] Miss Mitford's _Recollections of a Literary Life_ contained a
chapter relating to Robert and Elizabeth Browning, in which, with the
best intentions in the world, she told the story of the drowning of
Edward Barrett, and of the gloom cast by it on his sister's life. It was
this revival of the greatest sorrow of her life that so upset Mrs.
Browning.

[11] No doubt M. Milsand was the writer in question.

[12] The (forged) _Letters of Shelley_, to which Mr. Browning wrote an
introduction, dealing rather with Shelley in general than with the
letters.

[13] 'Lines to Elizabeth Barrett Browning on her Later Sonnets', printed
in the _Athenaeum_ for February 15, 1851. The allusion to the voice which
called 'Dinah' must refer to something in Miss Mulock's letter. Dinah
was Miss Mulock's Christian name.

[14] In another letter, written about the same date to Mrs. Martin, Mrs.
Browning says: 'Perhaps you never heard of the crystal ball. The
original ball was bought by Lady Blessington from an "Egyptian
magician," and resold at her sale. She never could understand the use of
it, but others have looked deeper, or with purer eyes, it is said; and
now there is an optician in London who makes and sells these balls, and
speaks of a "great demand," though they are expensive. "Many persons,"
said Lord Stanhope, "use the balls, without the moral courage to confess
it." No doubt they did.




CHAPTER VIII

1852-55


The middle of November found the travellers back again in Florence, and
it was nearly three years before they again quitted Italy. No doubt,
after the excitement of the _coup d'etat_ in Paris, and the subsequent
manoeuvres of Louis Napoleon, which culminated in this very month in
his exchanging the title of President for that of Emperor, Florence must
have seemed very quiet, if not dull. The political movement there was
dead; the Grand Duke, restored by Austrian bayonets, had abandoned all
pretence at reform and constitutional progress. In Piedmont, Cavour had
just been summoned to the head of the administration, but there were no
signs as yet of the use he was destined to make of his power. Of
politics, therefore, we hear little for the present.

Nor is there much to note at this time in respect of literature. A new
edition of Mrs. Browning's poems was called for in 1853; but beyond some
minor revisions of detail it did not differ from the edition of 1850.
Her husband's play, 'Colombe's Birthday,' was produced at the Haymarket
Theatre during April, with Miss Faucit (Lady Martin) in the principal
part; but the poet had no share in the production, and his literary
activity must have been devoted to the composition of some of the fine
poems which subsequently formed the two volumes of 'Men and Women,'
which appeared in 1855. Mrs. Browning had also embarked on her longest
poem, 'Aurora Leigh,' and speaks of being happily and busily engaged in
work; but we hear little of it as yet in her correspondence. Her little
son and her Florentine friends and visitors form her principal subjects;
and we also see the beginning of a topic which for the next few years
occupied a good deal of her attention--namely, Spiritualism.

The temperament of Mrs. Browning had in it a decidedly mystical vein,
which predisposed her to believe in any communication between our world
and that of the spirits. Hence when a number of people professed to have
such communication, she was not merely ready to listen to their claims,
but was by temperament inclined to accept them. The immense vogue which
spiritualism had during 'the fifties' tended to confirm her belief. It
was easy to say that where there was so much smoke there must be fire.
And what she believed, she believed strongly and with a perfect
conviction that no other view could be right. Just as her faith in Louis
Napoleon survived the _coup d'etat_, and even Villafranca, so her belief
in communications with the spirit world was proof against any exposure
of fraud on the part of the mediums. Not that she was guilty of the
absurdities which marked many of the devotees of spiritualism. She had a
great horror of submitting herself to mesmeric influences. She
recognised that very many of the supposed revelations of the spirits
were trivial, perhaps false; but to the fact that communications did
exist she adhered constantly.

It is not of much interest now to discuss the ethics or the metaphysics
of the 'rapping spirits;' but the subject deserves more than a passing
mention in the life of Mrs. Browning, because it has been said, and
apparently with authority, that 'the only serious difference which ever
arose between Mr. Browning and his wife referred to the subject of
spiritualism.'[15] It is quite certain that Mr. Browning did not share
his wife's belief in spiritualism; a reference to 'Sludge the Medium'
is sufficient to establish his position in the matter. But it is easy to
make too much of the supposed 'difference.' Certainly it has left no
trace in Mrs. Browning's letters which are now extant. There is no sign
in them that the divergence of opinion produced the slightest discord in
the harmony of their life. No doubt Mr. Browning felt strongly as to the
character of some of the persons, whether mediums or their devotees,
with whom his wife was brought into contact, and he may have relieved
his feelings by strong expressions of his opinion concerning them; but
there is no reason to lay stress on this as indicating any serious
difference between himself and his wife.

It has seemed necessary to say so much, lest it should be supposed that
any of the omissions, which have been made in order to reduce the bulk
of the letters within reasonable limits, cover passages in which such a
difference is spoken of. In no single instance is this the case. The
omissions have been made in the interests of the reader, not in order to
affect in any way the representation which the letters give of their
writer's feelings and character. With this preface they may be left to
tell their own tale.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

Florence: November 14, 1852 [postmark].

My dearest Sarianna,--You can't think how pleased I am to find myself in
Florence again in our own house, everything looking exactly as if we had
left it yesterday. Scarcely I can believe that we have gone away at all.
But Robert has been perfectly demoralised by Paris, and thinks it all as
dull as possible after the boulevards: 'no life, no variety.' Oh, of
course it _is_ very dead in comparison! but it's a beautiful death, and
what with the lovely climate, and the lovely associations, and the sense
of repose, I could turn myself on my pillow and sleep on here to the end
of my life; only be sure that I _shall do no such thing_. We are going
back to Paris; you will have us safe. Peninni had worked himself up to a
state of complete agitation on entering Florence, through hearing so
much about it. First he kissed me and then Robert again and again, as if
his little heart were full. '_Poor Florence_' said he while we passed
the bridge. Certainly there never was such a darling since the world
began.... I suffered extremely through our unfortunate election of the
Mont Cenis route (much more my own fault than Robert's), and was
extremely unwell at Genoa, to the extent of almost losing heart and
hope, which is a most unusual case with me, but the change from Lyons
had been too sudden and severe. At Genoa the weather was so exquisite,
so absolutely June weather, that at the end of a week's lying on the
sofa, I had rallied again quite, only poor darling Robert was horribly
vexed and out of spirits all that time, as was natural. I feel myself,
every now and then (and did then), like a weight round his neck, poor
darling, though he does not account it so, for his part. Well, but it
passed, and we were able to walk about beautiful Genoa the last two
days, and visit Andrea Doria's palace and enjoy everything together.
Then we came on by a night and day's diligence through a warm air, which
made me better and better. By the way, Turin is nearly as cold as
Chambery; you can't believe yourself to be in Italy. Susa, at the foot
of the Alps, is warmer. We were all delighted to hear the sound of our
dear Italian, and inclined to be charmed with everything; and Peninni
fairly expressed the kind of generalisations we were given to, when he
observed philosophically, 'In Italy, pussytats don't never _scwatch_,
mama.' This was in reply to an objection I had made to a project of his
about kissing the head of an enchanting pussy-cat who presented herself
in vision to him as we were dining at Turin.... God bless and preserve
you. We love you dearly, and talk of you continually--of both of you.
Your most affectionate sister,

BA.

Best love to your father.--Peninni.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To John Kenyon_

Casa Guidi: November 23, 1852.

We flatter ourselves, dearest Mr. Kenyon, that as we think so much of
you, you may be thinking a little of us, and will not be sorry--who
knows?--to have a few words from us.

November 24.

Just as I was writing, had written, that sentence yesterday, came the
letter which contained your notelet. Thank you, thank you, dearest
friend, it is very pleasant to have such a sign from your hand across
the Alps of kindness and remembrance. As to my sins in the choice of the
Mont Cenis route, 'Bradshaw' was full of temptation, and the results to
me have so entirely passed away now, that even the wholesome state of
repentance is very faded in the colours. What chiefly remains is the
sense of wonderful contrast between climate and climate when we found
ourselves at Genoa and in June. I can't get rid of the astonishment of
it even now. At Turin I had to keep up a fire most of the night in my
bedroom, and at Genoa, with all the windows and doors open, we were
gasping for breath, languid with the heat, blue burning skies overhead,
and not enough stirring air for refreshment. Nothing less, perhaps,
would have restored me so soon, and it was delightful to be able during
our last two days of our ten days there to stand on Andrea Doria's
terrace, and look out on that beautiful bay with its sweep of marble
palaces. My 'unconquerable mind' even carried me halfway up the
lighthouse for the sake of the 'view,' only there I had to stop
ingloriously, and let Robert finish the course alone while I rested on a
bench: aspiration is not everything, either in literature or
lighthouses, you know, let us be ever so 'insolvent.'

Well, and since we left Turin, everywhere in Italy we have found summer,
summer--not a fire have we needed even in Florence. Such mornings, such
evenings, such walkings out in the dusk, such sunsets over the Arno!
ah, Mr. Kenyon, you in England forget what life is in this out-of-door
fresh world, with your cloistral habits and necessities! I assure you I
can't help fancying that the winter is over and gone, the past looks so
cold and black in the warm light of the present. We have had some rain,
but at night, and only thundery frank rains which made the next day
warmer, and I have all but lost my cough, and am feeling very well and
very happy.

Oh, yes, it made me glad to see our poor darling Florence again; I do
love Florence when all's said against it, and when Robert (demoralised
by Paris) has said most strongly that the place is dead, and dull, and
flat, which it is, I must confess, particularly to our eyes fresh from
the palpitating life of the Parisian boulevards, where we could scarcely
find our way to Prichard's for the crowd during our last fortnight
there. Poor Florence, so dead, as Robert says, and as we both feel, so
trodden flat in the dust of the vineyards by these mules of Austria and
these asses of the Papacy: good heavens! how long are these things to
endure? I do love Florence, when all's said. The very calm, the very
dying stillness is expressive and touching. And then our house, our
tables, our chairs, our carpets, everything looking rather better for
our having been away! Overjoyed I was to feel myself _at home_ again!
our Italians so pleased to see us, Wiedeman's nurse rushing in, kissing
my lips away almost, and seizing on the child, 'Dio mio, come e bellino!
the tears pouring down her cheeks, not able to look, for emotion, at the
shawl we had brought her from England. Poor Italians! who can help
caring for them, and feeling for them in their utter prostration just
now? The unanimity of despair on all sides is an affecting thing, I can
assure you. There is no mistake _here_, no possibility of mistake or
doubt as to the sentiment of the people towards the actual regime; and
if your English newspapers earnestly want to sympathise with an
oppressed people, let them speak a little for Tuscany. The most hopeful
word we have heard uttered by the Italians is, 'Surely it cannot last.'
It is the hope of the agonising.

But our 'carta di soggiorno' was sent to us duly. The government is not
over learned in literature, oh no....

And only Robert has seen Mr. Powers yet, for he is in the crisis of
removal to a new house and studio, a great improvement on the last, and
an excellent sign of prosperity of course. He is to come to us some
evening as soon as he can take breath. We have had visits from the
attaches at the English embassy here, Mr. Wolf, and Mr. Lytton,[16] Sir
E. Bulwer Lytton's son, and I think we shall like the latter, who (a
reason for my particular sympathy) is inclined to various sorts of
spiritualism, and given to the magic arts. He told me yesterday that
several of the American rapping spirits are imported to Knebworth, to
his father's great satisfaction. A very young man, as you may suppose,
the son is; refined and gentle in manners. Sir Henry Bulwer is absent
from Florence just now.

As to our house, it really looks better to my eyes than it used to look.
Mr. Lytton wondered yesterday how we could think of leaving it, and so
do I, almost. The letting has answered well enough; that is, it has paid
all expenses, leaving an advantage to us of a house during _six months_,
at our choice to occupy ourselves or let again. Also it might have been
let for a year (besides other offers), only our agent expecting us in
September, and mistaking our intentions generally, refused to do so. Now
I will tell you what our plans are. We shall stay here till we can let
our house. If we don't let it we shall continue to occupy it, and put
off Rome till the spring, but the probability is that we shall have an
offer before the end of December, which will be quite time enough for a
Roman winter. In fact, I hear of a fever at Rome and another at Naples,
and would rather, on every account, as far as I am concerned, stay a
little longer in Florence. I can be cautious, you see, upon some points,
and Roman fevers frighten me for our little Wiedeman.

As to your 'science' of 'turning the necessity of travelling into a
luxury,' my dearest cousin, do let me say that, like some of the occult
sciences, it requires a good deal of gold to work out. Your too generous
kindness enabled us to do what we couldn't certainly have done without
it, but nothing would justify us, you know, in not considering the
cheapest way of doing things notwithstanding. So Bradshaw, as I say,
tempted us, and the sight of the short cut in the map (pure delusion
those maps are!) beguiled us, and we crossed the 'cold valley' and the
'cold mountain' when we shouldn't have done either, and we have bought
experience and paid for it. Never mind! experience is nearly always
worth its price. And I have nearly lost my cough, and Robert is dosing
me indefatigably with cod's liver oil to do away with my thinness....

Robert's best love, with that of your most

Gratefully affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

[Florence: winter 1852-3.]

[_The beginning of the letter is lost_]

The state of things here in Tuscany is infamous and cruel. The old
serpent, the Pope, is wriggling his venom into the heart of all
possibilities of free thought and action. It is a dreadful state of
things. Austria the hand, the papal power the brain! and no energy in
the victim for resistance--only for hatred. They do hate here, I am glad
to say.

But we linger at Florence in spite of all. It was delightful to find
ourselves in the old nest, still warm, of Casa Guidi, to sit in our own
chairs and sleep in our own beds; and here we shall stay as late
perhaps as March, if we don't re-let our house before. Then we go to
Rome and Naples. You can't think how we have caught up our ancient
traditions just where we left them, and relapsed into our former
soundless, stirless hermit life. Robert has not passed an evening from
home since we came--just as if we had never known Paris. People come
sometimes to have tea and talk with us, but that's all; a few
intelligent and interesting persons sometimes, such as Mr. Tennyson (the
poet's brother) and Mr. Lytton (the novelist's son) and Mr. Stuart, the
lecturer on Shakespeare, whom once I named to you, I fancy. Mr. Tennyson
married an Italian, and has four children. He has much of the atmosphere
poetic about him, a dreamy, speculative, shy man, reminding us of his
brother in certain respects; good and pure-minded. I like him. Young Mr.
Lytton is very young, as you may suppose, with all sorts of high
aspirations--and visionary enough to suit _me_, which is saying
much--and affectionate, with an apparent liking to us both, which is
engaging to us, of course. We have seen the Trollopes once, the younger
ones, but the elder Mrs. Trollope was visible neither at that time nor
since....

I sit here reading Dumas' 'last,' notwithstanding. Dumas is astonishing;
he never _will_ write himself out; there's no dust on his shoes after
all this running; his last books are better than his first.

Do your American friends write ever to you about the rapping spirits? I
hear and would hear much of them. It is said that at least fifteen
thousand persons in America, of all classes and society, are _mediums_,
as the term is. Most curious these phenomena.

[_The end of the letter is lost_]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

Casa Guidi, Florence: February [1853].

I had just heard of your accident from Arabel, my much loved friend, and
was on the point of writing to you when your letter came. To say that I
was shocked and grieved to hear such news of you, is useless indeed; you
will feel how I have felt about it. May God bless and restore you, and
make me very thankful, as certainly I must be in such a case....

The comfort to me in your letter is the apparent good spirits you write
in, and the cheerful, active intentions you have of work for the delight
of us all. I clap my hands, and welcome the new volumes. Dearest friend,
I do wish I had heard about the French poetry in Paris, for there I
could have got at books and answered some of your questions. The truth
is, I don't know as much about French modern poetry as I ought to do in
the way of _metier_. The French essential poetry seems to me to flow out
into prose works, into their school of romances, and to be least
poetical when dyked up into rhythm. Mdme. Valmore I never read, but she
is esteemed highly, I think, for a certain _naivete_, and happy
surprises in the thought and feeling, _des mots charmants_. I wanted to
get her books in Paris, and missed them somehow; there was so much to
think of in Paris. Alfred de Musset's poems I read, collected in a
single volume; it is the only edition I ever met with. The French value
him extremely for his _music_; and there is much in him otherwise to
appreciate, I think; very beautiful things indeed. He is best to my mind
when he is most lyrical, and when he says things in a breath. His
elaborate poems are defective. One or two Spanish ballads of his seem to
me perfect, really. He has great power in the introduction of familiar
and conventional images without disturbing the ideal--a good power for
these days. The worst is that the moral atmosphere is _bad_, and that,
though I am not, as you know, the very least bit of a prude (not enough
perhaps), some of his poems must be admitted to be most offensive. Get
St. Beuve's poems, they have much beauty in them you will grant at once.
Then there is a Breton[17] poet whose name Robert and I have both of us
been ungrateful enough to forget--we have turned our brains over and
over and can't find the name anyhow--and who, indeed, deserves to be
remembered, who writes some fresh and charmingly simple idyllic poems,
one called, I think, 'Primel et Nola.' By that clue you may hunt him out
perhaps in the 'Revue des Deux Mondes.' There's no strong imagination,
understand--nothing of that sort! but you have a sweet, fresh, cool
sylvan feeling with him, rare among Frenchmen of his class. Edgar Quinet
has more positive genius. He is a man of grand, extravagant conceptions.
Do you know the 'Ahasuerus'?

I wonder if the Empress pleases you as well as the Emperor. For my part,
I approve altogether, and none the less that he has offended Austria by
the mode of announcement. Every cut of the whip in the face of Austria
is an especial compliment to me--or, _so I feel it_. Let him head the
democracy and do his duty to the world, and use to the utmost his great
opportunities. Mr. Cobden and the Peace Society are pleasing me
infinitely just now in making head against the immorality (that's the
word) of the English press. The tone taken up towards France is immoral
in the highest degree, and the invasion cry would be idiotic if it were
not something worse. The Empress, I heard the other day from good
authority, is 'charming and good at heart.' She was educated 'at a
respectable school at Bristol' (Miss Rogers's, Royal Crescent, Clifton),
and is very 'English,' which doesn't prevent her from shooting with
pistols, leaping gates, driving 'four-in-hand,' and upsetting the
carriage when the frolic requires it, as brave as a lion and as true as
a dog. Her complexion is like marble, white, pale and pure; her hair
light, rather 'sandy,' they say, and she powders it with gold dust for
effect; but there is less physical and more intellectual beauty than is
generally attributed to her. She is a woman of 'very decided opinions.'
I like all that, don't you? and I liked her letter to the Prefet, as
everybody must. Ah, if the English press were in earnest in the cause of
liberty, there would be something to say for our poor trampled-down
Italy--much to say, I mean. Under my eyes is a people really oppressed,
really groaning its heart out. But these things are spoken of with
measure.

We are reading Lamartine and Proudhon on '48. We have plenty of French
books here; only the poets are to seek--the moderns. Do you catch sight
of Moore in diary and letters? Robert, who has had glimpses of him, says
the 'flunkeyism' is quite humiliating. It is strange that you have not
heard more of the rapping spirits. They are worth hearing of were it
only in the point of view of the physiognomy of the times, as a sign of
hallucination and credulity, if not more. Fifteen thousand persons in
all ranks of society, and all degrees of education, are said to be
_mediums_, that is _seers_, or rather hearers and recipients, perhaps.
Oh, I can't tell you all about it; but the details are most curious. I
understand that Dickens has caught a wandering spirit in London and
showed him up victoriously in 'Household Words' as neither more nor less
than the 'cracking of toe joints;' but it is absurd to try to adapt such
an explanation to cases in general. You know I am rather a visionary,
and inclined to knock round at all the doors of the present world to try
to get out, so that I listen with interest to every goblin story of the
kind, and, indeed, I hear enough of them just now.

We heard nothing, however, from the American Minister, Mr. Marsh, and
his wife, who have just come from Constantinople in consequence of the
change of Presidency, and who passed an evening with us a few days ago.
She is pretty and interesting, a great invalid and almost blind, yet she
has lately been to Jerusalem, and insisted on being carried to the top
of Mount Horeb. After which I certainly should have the courage to
attempt the journey myself, if we had money enough. Going to the Holy
Land has been a favorite dream of Robert's and mine ever since we were
married, and some day you will wonder why I don't write, and hear
suddenly that I am lost in the desert. You will wonder, too, at our
wandering madness, by the way, more than at any rapping spirit extant;
we have 'a spirit in our feet,' as Shelley says in his lovely Eastern
song--and our child is as bad as either of us. He says, 'I _tuite_ tired
of _Flolence_. I want to go to _Brome_,' which is worse than either of
us. I never am tired of Florence. Robert has had an application from
Miss Faucit (now Mrs. Martin) to bring out his 'Colombe's Birthday' at
the Haymarket.

[_The remainder of this letter is missing_]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

Florence: March 3, 1853.

My dearest Isa, ... You have seen in the papers that Sir Edward Lytton
Bulwer has had an accident in the arm, which keeps him away from the
House of Commons, and even from the Haymarket, where they are acting his
play ('Not so bad as we seem') with some success. Well, here is a
curious thing about it. Mr. Lytton told us some time ago, that, by
several clairvoyantes, without knowledge or connection with one another,
an impending accident had been announced to him, 'not fatal, but
serious.' Mr. Lytton said, 'I have been very uneasy about it, and
nervous as every letter arrived, but nearly three months having passed,
I began to think they must have made a mistake--only it is curious that
they all should _all_ make a mistake of the same kind precisely.' When
after this we saw the accident in the paper, it was effective, as you
may suppose!

Profane or not, I am resolved on getting as near to a solution of the
spirit question as I can, and I don't believe in the least risk of
profanity, seeing that whatever is, must be permitted; and that the
contemplation of whatever is, must be permitted also, where the
intentions are pure and reverent. I can discern no more danger in
psychology than in mineralogy, only intensely a greater interest. As to
the spirits, I care less about what they are capable of communicating,
than of the fact of there being communications. I certainly wouldn't set
about building a system of theology out of their oracles. God forbid.
They seem abundantly foolish, one must admit. There is probably,
however, a mixture of good spirits and bad, foolish and wise, of the
lower orders perhaps, in both kinds....

Isa, you and I must try to make head against the strong-minded women,
though really you half frighten me prospectively....

---- ----, one of the strong-minded, we just escaped with life from in
London, and again in Paris. In Rome she has us! What makes me talk so
ill-naturedly is the information I have since received, that she has put
everybody unfortunate enough to be caught, into a book, and published
them at full length, in American fashion. Now I do confess to the
greatest horror of being caught, stuck through with a pin, and
beautifully preserved with other butterflies and beetles, even in the
album of a Corinna in yellow silk. I detest that particular sort of
victimisation....

We are invited to go to Constantinople this summer, to visit the
American Minister there. There's a temptation for you!

God bless you, dearest Isa. I shall be delighted to see you again, and
so will Robert! I always feel (I say to him sometimes) that you love me
a little, and that I may rest on you. Your ever affectionate friend,

ELIZABETH B. BROWNING.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

Florence: March 15, [1853].

 ... The spring has surprised us here just as we were beginning to murmur
at the cold. Think of somebody advising me the other day not to send out
my child without a double-lined parasol! There's a precaution for March!
The sun is powerful--we are rejoicing in our Italian climate. Oh, that I
could cut out just a mantle of it to wrap myself in, and so go and see
you. Your house is dry, you say. Is the room you occupy airy as well as
warm? Because being confined to a small room, with you who are so used
to liberty and out of door life, must be depressing to the vital
energies. Do you read much? No, no, you ought not to think of the press,
of course, till you are strong. Ah--if you should get to London to see
our play, how glad I should be! We, too, talk of London, but somewhat
mistily, and not so early in the summer. Mr. and Mrs. Marsh--he is the
American Minister at Constantinople--have been staying in Florence, and
passing some evenings with us. They tempt us with an invitation to
Constantinople this summer, which would be irresistible if we had the
money for the voyage, perhaps, so perhaps it is as well that we have
not. Enough for us that we are going to Rome and to Naples, then
northward. I am busy in the meanwhile with various things, a new poem,
and revising for a third edition which is called for by the gracious
public. Robert too is busy with another book. Then I am helping to make
frocks for my child, reading Proudhon (and Swedenborg) and in deep
meditation on the nature of the rapping spirits, upon whom, I
understand, a fellow dramatist of yours, Henry Spicer (I think you once
mentioned him to me as such), has just written a book entitled, 'The
Mystery of the Age.' A happy winter it has been to me altogether. We
have had so much repose, and at the same time so much interest in life,
also I have been so well, that I shall be sorry when we go out of
harbour again with the spring breezes. We like Mr. Tennyson extremely,
and he is a constant visitor of ours: the poet's elder brother. By the
way, the new edition of the Ode on the Duke of Wellington seems to
contain wonderful strokes of improvement. Have you seen it? As to
Alexandre Dumas, Fils, I hope it is not true that he is in any scrape
from the cause you mention. He is very clever, and I have a feeling for
him for his father's sake as well as because he presents a rare instance
of intellectual heirship. Didn't I tell you of the prodigious success of
his drama of the 'Dame aux Camelias,' which ran about a hundred nights
last year, and is running again? how there were caricatures on the
boulevards, showing the public of the pit holding up umbrellas to
protect themselves from the tears rained down by the public of the
boxes? how the President of the Republic went to see, and sent a
bracelet to the first actress, and how the English newspapers called him
immoral for it? how I went to see, myself, and cried so that I was ill
for two days and how my aunt called _me_ immoral for it? I was properly
lectured, I assure you. She 'quite wondered how Mr. Browning could allow
such a thing,' not comprehending that Mr. Browning never, or scarcely
ever, does think of restraining his wife from anything she much pleases
to do. The play was too painful, that was the worst of it, but I
maintain it is a highly moral play, rightly considered, and the acting
was most certainly most exquisite on the part of all the performers. Not
that Alexandre Dumas, Fils, excels generally in morals (in his books, I
mean), but he is really a promising writer as to cleverness, and when he
has learnt a little more art he will take no low rank as a novelist.
Robert has just been reading a tale of his called 'Diane de Lys,' and
throws it down with--'You must read that, Ba--it is clever--only
outrageous as to the morals.' Just what I should expect from Alexandre
Dumas, Fils. I have a tenderness for the whole family, you see.

You don't say a word to me of Mrs. Beecher Stowe. How did her book[18]
impress you? No woman ever had such a success, such a fame; no man ever
had, in a single book. For my part I rejoice greatly in it. It is an
individual glory full of healthy influence and benediction to the world.

[_The remainder of this letter is missing_]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

Casa Guidi, Florence: March 17, [1853].

Thank you--how to thank you enough--for the too kind present of the
'Madonna,'[19] dearest Mona Nina. I will not wait to read it through--we
have only _looked_ through it, which is different; but there is enough
seen so beautiful as to deserve the world's thanks, to say nothing of
ours, and there are personal reasons besides why _we_ should thank you.
Have you not quoted us, have you not sent us the book? Surely, good
reasons.

But now, be still better to me, and write and say how you are. I want to
know that you are quite well; if you can tell me so, do. You have told
me of a new book, which is excellent news, and I hear from another
quarter that it will consist of your 'Readings' and 'Remarks,' a sort of
book most likely to penetrate widely and be popular in a good sense.
Would it not be well to bring out such a work volume by volume at
intervals? Is it this you are contemplating?...

Robert and I have had a very happy winter in Florence; let me, any way,
answer for myself. I have been well, and we have been quiet and
occupied; reading books, doing work, playing with Wiedeman; and with
nothing from without to vex us much. At the end of it all, we go to
Rome certainly; but we have taken on this apartment for another year,
which Robert decided on to please me, and because it was reasonable on
the whole. We have been meditating Socialism and mysticism of very
various kinds, deep in Louis Blanc and Proudhon, deeper in the German
spiritualists, added to which, I have by no means given up my French
novels and my rapping spirits, of whom our American guests bring us
relays of witnesses. So we don't absolutely moulder here in the
intellect, only Robert (and indeed I have too) has tender recollections
of 'that blaze of life in Paris,' and we both mean to go back to it
presently. No place like Paris for living in. Here, one sleeps,
'perchance to dream,' and praises the pillow.

We had a letter from our friend M. Milsand yesterday; you see he does
not forget us--no, indeed. In speaking of the state of things in France,
which I had asked him to do, he says, he is not sanguine (he never _is_
sanguine, I must tell you, about anything), though entirely dissentient
from _la presse Anglaise_. He considers on the whole that the _status_
is as good as can be desired, as a _stable foundation for the
development of future institutions_. It is in that point of view that he
regards the situation. So do I. As to the English press, I, who am not
'Anglomane' like our friend, I call it plainly either maniacal or
immoral, let it choose the epithet. The invasion cry, for instance, I
really can't qualify it; I can't comprehend it with motives all good and
fair. I throw it over to you to analyse.

With regard to the sudden death of French literature, you all exaggerate
that like the rest. If you look into even the 'Revue des Deux Mondes'
for the year 1852, you will see that a few books are still published.
_Pazienza._ Things will turn up better than you suppose. Newspapers
breathe heavily just now, that's undeniable; but for book literature the
government _never has_ touched it with a finger. I ascertained _that_ as
a fact when I was in Paris.

None of you in England understand what the crisis has been in France;
and how critical measures have been necessary. Lamartine's work on the
revolution of '48 is one of the best apologies for Louis Napoleon; and,
if you want another, take Louis Blanc's work on the same.

Isn't it a shame that nobody comes from the north to the south, after a
hundred oaths? I hear nothing of dear Mr. Kenyon. I hear nothing from
you of _your_ coming. You won't come, any of you....

I am much relieved by hearing that Mazzini is gone from Italy, whatever
Lord Malmesbury may say of it. Every day I expected to be told that he
was taken at Milan and shot. A noble man, though incompetent, I think,
to his own aspiration; but a man who personally has my sympathies
always. The state of things here is cruel, the people are one groan. God
deliver us all, I must pray, and by almost any means.

As to your Ministry, I don't expect very much from it. Lord Aberdeen,
'put on' to Lord John, is using the drag uphill. They will do just as
little as they can, be certain.

Think of my submitting at last to the conjugal will and cod's liver
oil--yes, and think of its doing me good. The cough was nearly, if not
quite, gone because of the climate, before I took the oil, but it does
me good by making me gain in flesh. I am much less thin, and very well,
and dearest Robert triumphant.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

Florence: April 12, [1853].

The comfort is, my ever loved friend, that here is spring--summer, as
translated into Italy--if fine weather is to set you up again. I shall
be very thankful to have better news of you; to hear of your being out
of that room and loosened into some happy condition of liberty. It seems
unnatural to think of you in one room. _That_ seems fitter for _me_,
doesn't it? And the rooms in England are so low and small, that they
put double bars on one's captivity. May God bring you out with the
chestnut trees and elms! It's very sad meanwhile.

Comfort yourself, dear friend! Admire Louis Napoleon. He's an
extraordinary man beyond all doubt; and that he has achieved great good
for France, _I_ do not in the least doubt. I was only telling you that I
had not finished my pedestal for him--wait a little. Because, you see,
for my part, I don't go over to the system of 'mild despotisms,' no,
indeed. I am a democrat to the bone of me. It is simply as a
democratical ruler, and by grace of the people, that I accept him, and
he must justify himself by more deeds to his position before he
glorifies himself before _me_. That's what I mean to say. A mild despot
in France, let him be the Archangel Gabriel, unless he hold the kingdom
in perpetuity, what is the consequence? A successor like the Archangel
Lucifer, perhaps. Then, for the press, where there is thought, there
must be discussion or conspiracy. Are you aware of the amount of readers
in France? Take away the 'Times' newspaper, and the blow falls on a
handful of readers, on a section of what may be called the aristocracy.
But everybody reads in France. Every fiacre driver who waits for you at
a shop door, beguiles the time with a newspaper. It is on that account
that the influence of the press is dangerous, you will say. Precisely
so; but also, on that account too, it is necessary. No; I hold, myself,
that he will give more breathing room to France, as circumstances admit
of it. Else, there will be convulsion. You will see. We shall see. And
Louis Napoleon, who is wise, _foresees_, I cannot doubt.

Not read Mrs. Stowe's book! But you _must_. Her book is quite a sign of
the times and has otherwise and intrinsically considerable power. For
myself, I rejoice in the success, both as a woman and a human being. Oh,
and is it possible that you think a woman has no business with questions
like the question of slavery? Then she had better use a pen no more.
She had better subside into slavery and concubinage herself, I think, as
in the times of old, shut herself up with the Penelopes in the 'women's
apartment,' and take no rank among thinkers and speakers. Certainly you
are not in earnest in these things. A difficult question--yes! All
virtue is difficult. England found it difficult. France found it
difficult. But we did not make ourselves an arm-chair of our sins. As
for America, I honor America in much; but I would not be an American for
the world while she wears that shameful scar upon her brow. The address
of the new President[20] exasperates me. Observe, I am an abolitionist,
not to the fanatical degree, because I hold that compensation should be
given by the North to the South, as in England. The States should unite
in buying off this national disgrace.

The Americans are very kind and earnest, and I like them all the better
for their warm feeling towards you. Is Longfellow agreeable in his
personal relations? We knew his brother, I think I told you, in Paris. I
suppose Mr. Field has been liberal to Thackeray, and yet Thackeray does
not except him in certain observations on American publishers. We shall
have an arrangement made of some sort, it appears. Mr. Forster wants me
to add some new poems to my new edition, in order to secure the
copyright under the new law. But as the law does not act backwards, I
don't see how new poems would save me. They would just sweep out the new
poems--that's all. One or two lyrics could not be made an object, and in
those two thick volumes, nearly bursting with their present contents,
there would not be room for many additions. No, I shall add nothing. I
have revised the edition very carefully, and made everything better. It
vexed me to see how much there was to do. Positively, even rhymes left
unrhymed in 'Lady Geraldine's Courtship.' You don't write so carelessly,
not you, and the reward is that you haven't so much trouble in your new
editions. I see your book advertised in a stray number of the 'Athenaeum'
lent to me by Mr. Tennyson--Frederick. He lent it to me because I wanted
to see the article on the new poet, Alexander Smith, who appears so
applauded everywhere. He has the poet's _stuff_ in him, one may see from
the extracts. Do you know him? And Coventry Patmore--have you heard
anything of _his_ book,[21] of which appears an advertisement?

Ah, yes; how unfortunate that you should have parted with your
copyrights! It's a bad plan always, except in the case of novels which
have their day, and no day after.

The poem I am about will fill a volume when done. It is the novel or
romance I have been hankering after so long, written in blank verse, in
the autobiographical form; the heroine, an artist woman--not a painter,
mind. It is intensely modern, crammed from the times (not the 'Times'
newspaper) as far as my strength will allow. Perhaps you won't like it,
perhaps you will. Who knows? who dares hope?

I am beginning to be anxious about 'Colombe's Birthday.' I care much
more about it than Robert does. He says that nobody will mistake it for
_his_ speculation, it's Mr. Buckstone's affair altogether. True; but I
should like it to succeed, being Robert's play notwithstanding. But the
play is subtle and refined for pits and galleries. I am nervous about
it. On the other hand, those theatrical people ought to know; and what
in the world made them select it if it is not likely to answer their
purpose? By the way, a dreadful rumour reaches us of its having been
'_prepared for the stage by the author_.' Don't believe a word of it.
Robert just said 'yes' when they wrote to ask him, and not a line of
communication has passed since. He has prepared nothing at all,
suggested nothing, modified nothing. He referred them to his new
edition; and that was the whole.

We see a great deal of Mr. Tennyson. Robert is very fond of him, and so
am I. He too writes poems, and prints them, though not for the public.
They are better and stronger than Charles Tennyson's, and he has the
poetical temperament in everything. Did I tell you that he had married
an Italian, and had children from twelve years old downwards? He is
intensely English nevertheless, as expatriated Englishmen generally are.
I always tell Robert that his patriotism grows and deepens in exact
proportion as he goes away from England. As for me, it is not so with
me. I am very cosmopolitan, and am considerably tired of the
self-deification of the English nation at the expense of all others. We
have some noble advantages over the rest of the world, but it is not all
advantage. The shameful details of bribery, for instance, prove what I
have continually maintained, the non-representativeness of our
'representative system;' and, socially speaking, we are much behindhand
with most foreign peoples. Let us be proud in the right place, I say,
and not in the wrong. 'We see too a good deal of young Lytton, Sir
Edward's only son, an interesting young man, with various sorts of good,
and aspiration to good, in him. You see we are not at Rome yet. Do write
to me. Speak of yourself particularly. God bless you, dearest friend.
Believe that I think of you and love you most faithfully.

BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

Florence: April 21, 1853.

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--I am in consternation and vexation on receiving
your letter. What you must have thought of me all this time! Of course I
never saw the letters which went to Rome. Letters sent to Poste
restante, Rome, are generally lost, even if you are a Roman: and we are
no Romans, alas! nor likely to become such, it seems to me. There's a
fatality about Rome to us. I waited for you to write, and then waited on
foolishly for the settlement of our own plans, after I had ascertained
that you were not in Devonshire, but in France as usual. Now, I can't
help writing, though I have written a letter already which must have
crossed yours--a long letter--so that you will have more than enough of
me this time.

It's comfort and pleasure after all to have a good account of you both,
my very dear friends, even though one knows by it that you have been
sending one 'al diavolo' for weeks or months. Forgive me, do. I feel
guilty somehow to the extreme degree, that four letters should have been
written to me, even though I received none of them, because I ought to
have written at least one letter in that time.

Your politics would be my politics on most points; we should run
together more than halfway, if we could stand side by side, in spite of
all your vindictiveness to N. III. My hero--say you? Well, I have more
belief in him than you have. And what is curious, and would be
unaccountable, I suppose, to English politicians in general, the Italian
democrats of the lower classes, the popular clubs in Florence, are
clinging to him as their one hope. Ah, here's oppression! here's a
people trodden down! You should come here and see. It is enough to turn
the depths of the heart bitter. The will of the people forced, their
instinctive affections despised, their liberty of thought spied into,
their national life ignored altogether. Robert keeps saying, 'How long,
O Lord, how long?' Such things cannot last, surely. Oh, this brutal
Austria!

I myself expect help from Louis Napoleon, though scarcely in the way
that the clubs are said to do. When I talk of a club, of course I mean a
secret combination of men--young men who meet to read forbidden
newspapers and talk forbidden subjects. He won't help the Mazzinians,
but he will do something for Italy, you will see. The Cardinals feel
it, and that's why they won't let the Pope go to Paris. We shall see. I
seem to catch sight of the grey of dawn even in the French Government
papers, and am full of hope.

As to Mazzini, he is a noble man and an unwise man. Unfortunately the
epithets are compatible. Kossuth is neither very noble nor very wise. I
have heard and _felt_ a great deal of harm of him. The truth is not in
him. And when a patriot lies like a Jesuit, what are we to say?

For England--do you approve of the fleet staying on at Malta? We are
prepared to do nothing which costs us a halfpenny for a less gain than
three farthings--always excepting the glorious national defences, which
have their end too, though not the one generally attributed....

God bless you, my dear, dear friends! Care in your thoughts for us all!

Your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To John Kenyon_

Casa Guidi: May 16 [1853].

My dearest Mr. Kenyon,--You are to be thanked and loved as ever, and
what can we say more? This: Do be good to us by a supererogatory virtue
and write to us. You can't know how pleasant it is to be _en rapport_
with you, though by holding such a fringe of a garment as a scrap of
letter is. We don't see you, we don't hear you! 'Rap' to us with the end
of your pen, like the benign spirit you are, and let me (who am
credulous) believe that you care for us and think kindly of us in the
midst of your brilliant London gossipry, and that you don't disdain the
talk of us, dark ultramontanists as we are. You are good to us in so
many ways, that it's a reason for being good in another way besides. At
least, to reason so is one of the foolishnesses of my gratitude.

On the whole, I am satisfied with regard to 'Colombe.' I never expected
a theatrical success, properly and vulgarly so called; and the play has
taken rank, to judge by the various criticisms, in the right way, as a
true poet's work: the defects of the acting drama seemed recognised as
the qualities of the poem. It was impossible all that subtle tracery of
thought and feeling should be painted out clear red and ochre with a
house-painter's brush, and lose nothing of its effect.[22] A play that
runs nowadays has generally four legs to run with--something of the
beast to keep it going. The human biped with the 'os divinior' is slower
than a racehorse even. What I hope is, that the poetical appreciation of
'Colombe' will give an impulse to the sale of the poems, which will be
more acceptable to us than the other kind of success....

Yes, dearest Mr. Kenyon, we mean, if we can, to go to Rome in the
autumn. It is very wrong of you not to come too, and the reasons you
give against it are by no means conclusive. My opinion is that, whatever
the term of your natural life may be, you would probably have an
additional ten years fastened on to it by coming to the Continent, and
so I tease you and tease you, as is natural to such an opinion. People
twirl now in their arm-chairs, and the vitality in them kindles as they
rush along. Remember how pleased you were when you were at Como! Don't
draw a chalk circle round you and fancy you can't move. Even tables and
chairs have taken to move lately, and hats spin round without a giddy
head in them. Is this a time to stand still, even in the garden at
Wimbledon? 'I speak to a wise man; judge what I say.'

We tried the table experiment in this room a few days since,
by-the-bye, and failed; but we were impatient, and Robert was playing
Mephistopheles, as Mr. Lytton said, and there was little chance of
success under the circumstances. It has been done several times in
Florence, and the fact of the possibility seems to have passed among
'attested facts.' There was a placard on the wall yesterday about a
pamphlet purporting to be an account of these and similar phenomena
'scoperte a Livorno,' referring to 'oggetti semoventi' and other
wonders. You can't even look at a wall without a touch of the subject.
The _circoli_ at Florence are as revolutionary as ever, only tilting
over tables instead of States, alas! From the Legation to the English
chemist's, people are 'serving tables' (in spite of the Apostle)
everywhere. When people gather round a table it isn't to play whist. So
good, you say. You can believe in table-moving, because _that_ may be
'electricity;' but you can't believe in the 'rapping spirits,' with the
history of whom these movements are undeniably connected, because it's
'a jump.' Well, but you will jump when the time comes for jumping, and
when the evidence is strong enough. I know you; you are strong enough
and true enough to jump at anything, without being afraid. The tables
jump, observe--and _you_ may jump. Meanwhile, if you were to hear what
we heard only the evening before last from a cultivated woman with
truthful, tearful eyes, whose sister is a medium, and whose mother
believes herself to be in daily communion with her eldest daughter, dead
years ago--if you were to hear what we hear from nearly all the
Americans who come to us, their personal experiences, irrespectively of
paid mediums, I wonder if you would admit the possibility of your even
jumping! Robert, who won't believe, he says, till he sees and hears with
his own senses--Robert, who is a sceptic--observed of himself the other
day, that we had received as much evidence of these spirits as of the
existence of the town of Washington. But then of course he would
add--and you would, reasonably enough--that in a matter of this kind
(where you have to jump) you require more evidence, double the evidence,
to what you require for the existence of Washington. That's true.

[_Incomplete_]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

Florence: June [1853].

My dearest Fanny,--I hope you will write to me as if I deserved it. You
see, my first word is to avert the consequences of my sin instead of
repenting of it in the proper and effectual way. The truth is, that ever
since I received your letter we have been looking out for 'messengers'
from the Legation, so as to save you postage; while the Embassy people
have been regularly forgetting us whenever there has been an
opportunity. By the way, I catch up that word of 'postage' to beg you
_never to think of it_ when inclined in charity to write to us. If you
knew what a sublunary thing--oh, far below any visible moon!--postage is
to us exiles! Too glad we are to get a letter and pay for it. So write
to me _directly_, dear Fanny, when you think enough of us for that, and
write at length, and tell us of yourself first, swirling off into Pope's
circles--'your country first and then the human race'--and, indeed, we
get little news from home on the subjects which especially interest us.
My sister sends me heaps of near things, but she is not in the magnetic
circles, nor in the literary, nor even in the gossiping. Be good to us,
_you_ who stand near the fountains of life! Every cup of cold water is
worth a ducat here.

To wait to a second page without thanking you for your kindness and
sympathy about 'Colombe' does not do justice to the grateful sense I had
of both at the time, and have now. We were _very_ glad to have your
opinion and impressions. Most of our friends took for granted that we
had supernatural communications on the subject, and did not send us a
word. Mrs. Duncan Stewart was one of the kind exceptions (with yourself
and one or two more), and I write to thank her. It was very pleasant to
hear what you said, dear Fanny. Certainly, says the author, you are
right, and Helen Faucit wrong, in the particular reading you refer to;
but she seems to have been right in so much, that we should only
remember our grateful thoughts of her in general.

Now what am I to say about my illustrations--that is, your illustrations
of my poems? To thank you again and again first. To be eager next to see
what is done. To be sure it is good, and surer still that _you_ are good
for spending your strength on me. See how it is. When you wrote to me, a
new edition was in the press; yes, and I was expecting every day to hear
it was out again. But it would not have done, I suppose, to have used
illustrations for that sort of edition; it would have raised the price
(already too high) beyond the public. But there will be time always for
such arrangements--when it so pleases Mr. Chapman, I suppose. Do tell me
more of what you have done.

We did not go to Rome last winter, in spite of the spirits of the sun
who declared from Lord Stanhope's crystal ball, you remember, that we
should. And we don't go to England till next summer, because we must see
Rome next winter, and must lie _perdus_ in Italy meantime. I have had a
happy winter in Florence, recovered my lost advantages in point of
health, been busy and tranquil, had plenty of books and talk, and seen
my child grow rosier and prettier (said aside) every day. Robert and I
are talking of going up to the monasteries beyond Vallombrosa for a day
or two, on mule-back through forests and mountains. We have had an
excursion to Prato (less difficult) already, and we keep various dreams
in our heads to be acted out on occasion. Our favorite friend here is a
brother of Alfred Tennyson's, himself a poet, but most admirable to me
for his simplicity and truth. Robert is very fond of him. Then we like
Powers--of the 'Greek Slave'--Swedenborgian and spiritualist; and Mr.
Lytton, Sir Edward's son, who is with us often, and always a welcome
visitor. All these confederate friends are ranged with me on the
believing side with regard to the phenomena, and Robert has to keep us
at bay as he best can. Oh, do tell me what you can. Your account deeply
interested me. We have heard many more intimate personal relations from
Americans who brush us with their garments as they pass through
Florence, and I should like to talk these things over with you. Paid
mediums, as paid clairvoyants in general, excite a prejudice; yet,
perhaps, not reasonably. The curious fact in this movement is, however,
the degree in which it works within private families in America. Has
anything of the kind appeared in England? And has the motion of the
tables ever taken the form of alphabetical expression, which has been
the case in America? I had a letter from Athens the other day,
mentioning that 'nothing was talked of there except moving tables and
spiritual manifestations.' (The writer was not a believer.) Even here,
from the priest to the Mazzinian, they are making circles. An engraving
of a spinning table at a shop window bears this motto: '_E pur si
muove!_' That's adroit for Galileo's land, isn't it? Now mind you tell
me whatever you hear and see. How does Mrs. Crowe decide? By the way, I
was glad to observe by the papers that she has had a dramatic success.

Your Alexander Smith has noble stuff in him. It's undeniable, indeed. It
strikes us, however, that he has more imagery than verity, more colour
than form. He will learn to be less arbitrary in the use of his
figures--of which the opulence is so striking--and attain, as he ripens,
more clearness of outline and depth of intention. Meanwhile none but a
poet could write this, and this, and this.

Your faithfully affectionate
E.B.B., properly speaking BA.

July 3.

This was written ever so long since. Here we are in July; but I won't
write it over again. The 'tables' are speaking alphabetically and
intelligently in Paris; they knock with their legs on the floor,
establishing (what was clear enough before to _me_) the connection
between the table-moving and 'rapping spirits.' Sarianna--who is of the
unbelieving of temperaments, as you know--wrote a most curious account
to me the other day of a seance at which she had been present, composed
simply of one or two of our own honest friends and of a young friend of
theirs, a young lady....[23] She says that she 'was not as much
impressed as she would have been,' 'but I am bound to tell the truth,
that I _do not think it possible that any tricks could have been
played_.'

This from Sarianna is equal to the same testimony--from Mr. Chorley,
say!

We are planning a retreat into the mountains--into Giotto's country, the
Casentino--where we are to find a villa for almost nothing, and shall
have our letters sent daily from Florence, together with books and
newspapers. I look forward to it with joy. We promise one another to be
industrious _a faire fremir_, so as to make the pleasure lawful. Little
Penini walks about, talking of 'mine villa,' anxiously hoping that 'some
boys' may not have pulled all the flowers before he gets there. He
boasts, with considerable complacency, that 'a table in Pallis says I am
four years,' though the fact doesn't strike him as extraordinary.

Do you ever see Mr. Kenyon? I congratulate you on your friend's 'Coeur
de Lion.' _That_ has given you pleasure.

       *       *       *       *       *


The summer 'retreat' from Florence this year was not to the Casentino
after all, but to the Baths of Lucca, which they had already visited in
1849. During their stay there, which lasted from July to October, Mr.
Browning is said to have composed 'In a Balcony.'

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

Florence: July 15, 1853.

 ... We have taken a villa at the Baths of Lucca, after a little holy
fear of the company there; but the scenery, the coolness, and the
convenience altogether prevail, and we have taken our villa for three
months or rather more, and go to it next week with a stiff resolve of
not calling nor being called upon. You remember perhaps that we were
there four years ago, just after the birth of our child. The mountains
are wonderful in beauty, and we mean to buy our holiday by doing some
work.

Yesterday evening we had the American Minister at the Court of Turin
here, and it was delightful to hear him talk about Piedmont, its
progress in civilisation and the comprehension of liberty, and the
honesty and resolution of the King. It is the only hope of Italy, that
Piedmont! God prosper the hope. Besides this diplomatical dignitary and
his wife, we had two American gentlemen of more than average
intelligence, who related wonderful things of the 'spiritual
manifestations' (so called), incontestable things, inexplicable things.
You will have seen Faraday's letter.[24] I wish to reverence men of
science, but they often will not let me. If _I_ know certain facts on
this subject, Faraday _ought_ to have known them before he expressed an
opinion on it. His statement does not meet the facts of the case--it is
a statement which applies simply to various amateur operations without
touching on the essential phenomena, such as the moving of tables
untouched by a finger.

Our visitor last night, to say nothing of other witnesses, has
repeatedly seen this done with his eyes--in private houses, for
instance, where there could be no machinery--and he himself and his
brother have held by the legs of a table to prevent the motion--the
medium sitting some yards away--and that table has been wrenched from
their grasp and lifted into the air. My husband's sister, who has
admirable sense and excessive scepticism on all matters of the kind, was
present the other day at the house of a friend of ours in Paris, where
an English young lady was medium, and where the table expressed itself
intelligently by knocking, with its leg, responses according to the
alphabet. For instance, the age of my child was asked, and the leg
knocked four times. Sarianna was 'not impressed,' she says, but, 'being
bound to speak the truth, she does not _think it possible that any trick
could have been used_.' To hear her say so was like hearing Mr. Chorley
say so; all her prejudices were against it strongly. Mr. Spicer's book
on the subject is flippant and a little vulgar, but the honesty and
accuracy of it have been attested to me by Americans oftener than once.
By the way, he speaks in it of your interesting 'Recollections,' and
quotes you upon the possibility of making a ghost story better by the
telling--in reference to Washington.

Mr. Tennyson is going to England for a few months, so that our Florence
party is breaking up, you see. He has printed a few copies of his poems,
and is likely to publish them if he meets with encouragement in England,
I suppose. They are full of imagery, encompassed with poetical
atmosphere, and very melodious. On the other hand, there is vagueness
and too much personification. It's the smell of a rose rather than a
rose--very sweet, notwithstanding. His poems are far superior to Charles
Tennyson's, bear in mind. As for the poet, we quite love him, Robert and
I do. What Swedenborg calls 'selfhood,' the _proprium_, is not in him.

Oh yes! I confess to loving Florence and to having associated with it
the idea of _home_. My child was born here, and here I have been very
happy and _well_. Yet we shall not live in Florence--we are steady to
our Paris plan. We must visit Rome next winter, and in the spring we
shall go to Paris _via_ London; you may rely on us for next summer. I
think it too probable that I may not be able to bear two successive
winters in the North; but in that case it will be easy to take a flight
for a few winter months into Italy, and we shall regard Paris, where
Robert's father and sister are waiting for us, as our fixed place of
residence. As to the distance between Paris and London, it's a mere step
now. We are to have war, I suppose. I would not believe it for a long
while, but the Czar seems to be struck with madness--mad in good
earnest. Under these circumstances I hope our Ministry will act with
decision and honesty--but I distrust Lord Aberdeen. There is evidently,
or has been, a division in the Cabinet, and perhaps Lord Palmerston is
not the strongest. Louis Napoleon has acted excellently in this
conjuncture--with integrity and boldness--don't you think so? Dear Mr.
Kenyon has his brother and sister with him, to his great joy. Robert
pretended he would not give me your last letter. Little Wiedeman threw
his arms round my neck (taking the play-cruelty for earnest) and
exclaimed, 'Never mind, mine darling Ba! You'll have it.' He always
calls me Ba at coaxing times. Such a darling that child is, indeed!

God bless you! Do write soon and tell me in detail of yourself.

Our united love, but mine the closest!

Your ever most affectionate
E.B.B.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

Casa Tolomei, Alia Villa, Bagni di Lucca:
July 26, [1853].

I deserve another scold for this other silence, dearest Isa. Scold as
softly as you can! We have been in uncertainty about leaving
Florence--where to go for the summer--and I did not like to write till I
could tell you where to write to _me_. Now we are 'fixed,' as our
American friends would say. We have taken this house for three months--a
larger house than we need. We have a row of plane trees before the door
in which the cicale sing all day, and the beautiful mountains stand
close around, keeping us fresh with shadows. Penini thinks he is in
Eden--_at least he doesn't think otherwise_. We have a garden and an
arbour, and the fireflies light us up at nights. With all this, I am
sorry for Florence. Florence was horribly hot, and pleasant
notwithstanding. We hated cutting the knot of friends we had
there--bachelor friends, Isa, who came to us for coffee and smoking! I
was gracious and permitted the cigar (as you were not present), and
there were quantities of talk, controversy, and confidences evening
after evening. One of our very favourite friends, Frederick Tennyson, is
gone to England, or was to have gone, for three months. Mr. Lytton had a
reception on the terrace of his villa at Bellosguardo the evening before
our last in Florence, and we were all bachelors together there, and I
made tea, and we ate strawberries and cream and talked spiritualism
through one of the pleasantest two hours that I remember. Such a view!
Florence dissolving in the purple of the hills; and the stars looking
on. Mr. Tennyson was there, Mr. Powers, and M. Villari[25], an
accomplished Sicilian, besides our young host and ourselves. How we 'set
down' Faraday for his 'arrogant and insolent letter,' and what stories
we told, and what miracles we swore to! Oh, we are believers here, Isa,
except Robert, who persists in wearing a coat of respectable
scepticism--so considered--though it is much out of elbows and ragged
about the skirts. If I am right, you will none of you be able to
disbelieve much longer--a, new law, or a new development of law, is
making way everywhere. We have heard much--more than I can tell you in a
letter. Imposture is absolutely out of the question, to speak generally;
and unless you explain the phenomena by 'a personality unconsciously
projected' (which requires explanation of itself), you must admit the
spirit theory. As to the simpler forms of the manifestation (it is all
one manifestation), the 'turning-tables,' I was convinced long before
Faraday's letter that _many_ of the amateur performances were from
involuntary muscular action--but what then? These are only imitations of
actual phenomena. Faraday's letter does not meet the common fact of
tables being moved and lifted without the touch of a finger. It is a
most arrogant letter and singularly inconclusive. Tell me any facts you
may hear. Mr. Kinney, the American Minister at the Court of Turin, had
arrived at Florence a few days before we quitted it, and he and his wife
helped us to spend our last evening at Casa Guidi. He is cultivated and
high-minded. I like him much; and none the less that he brings hopeful
accounts of the state of Piedmont, of the progress of the people, and
good persistency of the King. It makes one's heart beat with the sense
that all is not over with our poor Italy.

I am glad you like Frederick Tennyson's poems. They are full of
_atmospherical_ poetry, and very melodious. The poet is still better
than the poems--so truthful, so direct, such a reliable Christian man.
Robert and I quite love him. We very much appreciate, too, young Lytton,
your old friend. He is noble in many ways, I think, and affectionate.
Moreover, he has an incontestable _faculty_ in poetry, and I expect
great things from him as he ripens into life and experience. Meanwhile
he has just privately printed a drama called 'Clytemnestra,' too
ambitious because after AEschylus, but full of promise indeed. We are
hoping that he will come down and see us in the course of our
rustication at the Baths, and occupy our spare bedroom....

As to Mr. ----, his Hebrew was Chinese to _you_, do you say? But, dear,
he is strong in veritable Chinese besides! And one evening he nearly
assassinated me with the analysis, chapter by chapter, of a Japanese
novel. Mr. Lytton, who happened to be a witness, swore that I grew
paler and paler, and not with sympathy for the heroine. He is a
miraculously vain man--which rather amused me--and, for the rest, is
full of information--yes, and of kindness, I think. He gave me a little
black profile of you which gives the air of your head, and is so far
valuable to me. As to myself, indeed, he has rather flattered me than
otherwise--I don't complain, I assure you. How could I complain of a man
who compares me to Isaiah, under any circumstances?...

God bless you! Robert's love with that of

Your ever affectionate and faithful
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Chorley_

Casa Tolomei (Alia Villa), Bagni di Lucca:
August 10, [1853].

My dear Mr. Chorley,--I can't bear that you should intimate by half a
word that you are 'a creature to be eaten'--viz. not to have your share
in friendship and confidence. Now, if you fancy that we, for instance,
don't affectionately regard you, you are very wrong, and I am very right
for feeling inclined to upbraid you. I take the pen from Robert--he
would take it if I did not. We scramble a little for the pen which is to
tell you this--which is to say it again and again, and be dull in the
reiteration, rather than not instruct you properly, as we teach our
child to do--D O G, dog; D O G, dog; D O G, dog. Says Robert, 'What a
slow business!' Yet he's a quick child; and you too must be quick and
comprehending, or we shall take it to heart sadly. Often I think, and we
say to one another, that we belied ourselves to you in England. If you
knew how, at that time, Robert was vexed and worn!--why, he was not the
same even to _me_! He seemed to himself to be slipping out of waistcoats
and friends at once--so worn and teased he was! But then and now believe
that he loved and loves you. Set him down as a friend--as somebody to
'rest on' after all; and don't fancy that because we are away here in
the wilderness (which blossoms as a rose, to one of us at least) we may
not be full of affectionate thoughts and feelings towards you in your
different sort of life in London. So sorry we are--I especially, for I
think I understand the grief especially--about the household troubles
which you hint at and Mr. Kenyon gave us a key to. I quite understand
how a whole life may seem rumpled up and creased--torn for the moment;
only you will live it smooth again, dear Mr. Chorley--take courage. You
have time and strength and good aims, and human beings have been happy
with much less. I understate your advantages on purpose, you see. I
heard you talked of in Florence when Miss Cushman, in the quarter of an
hour she gave us at Casa Guidi, told us of the oath she had in heaven to
bring out your play and make it a triumph. How she praised the play, and
you! Twice I have spoken with her--once on a balcony on the boulevard,
when together we saw Louis Napoleon enter Paris in immediate face of the
empire, and that once in Florence. I like the 'manly soul' in her face
and manners. Manly, not masculine--an excellent distinction of Mrs.
Jameson's. By the way, we hear wonderful things of the portrait painted
of Miss Cushman at Rome by Mr. Page the artist, called 'the American
Titian' by the Americans....

There I stop, not to 'fret' you beyond measure. Besides, now that you
Czars of the 'Athenaeum' have set your Faradays on us, ukase and knout,
what Pole, in the deepest of the brain, would dare to have a thought on
the subject? Now that Professor Faraday has 'condescended,' as the
'Literary Gazette' affectingly puts it (and the condescension is
sufficiently obvious in the letter--'how we stoop!')--now that Professor
Faraday has condescended to explain the whole question--which had
offered some difficulty, it is admitted, to 'hundreds of intelligent
men, including five or six eminent men of science,' in Paris, and, we
may add, to thousands of unintelligent men elsewhere, including the
eminent correspondent of the 'Literary Gazette'--let us all be silent
for evermore. For my part, I won't say that Lord Bacon would have
explained any question to a child even without feeling it to be an act
of condescension. I won't hint under my breath that Lord Bacon
reverenced every _fact_ as a footstep of Deity, and stooped to pick up
every rough, ungainly stone of a fact, though it were likely to tear and
deform the smooth wallet of a theory. I, for my part, belong, you know,
not to the 'eminent men of science,' nor even to the 'intelligent men,'
but simply to the women, children (and poets?), and if we happen to see
with our eyes a table lifted from the floor without the touch of a
finger or foot, let no dog of us bark--much less a puppy-dog! The famous
letter holds us gagged. What it does not hold is the facts; but, _en
revanche_, the writer and his abettors know the secret of being
invincible--which is, not to fight. My child proposed a donkey-race
yesterday, the condition being that he should ride first. Somebody, told
me once that when Miss Martineau has spoken eloquently on one side of a
question, she drops her ear-trumpet to give the opportunity to her
adversary. Most controversies, to do justice to the world, are conducted
on the same plan and terms.

What I do venture however to say is that it's _not_ all over in Paris
because of Faraday's letter. _Ask Lamartine._ What I hear and what the
'Literary Gazette' hears from Paris is by no means the same thing. I
hear Hebrew while the 'Gazette' hears Dutch--a miracle befitting the
subject, or what was once considered to be the subject (I beg Professor
Faraday's pardon), before it was annihilated.

How pert women can be, can't they, Mr. Chorley? particularly when they
are safe among the mountains, shut in with a row of seven plane-trees
joined at top. I won't go on to offer myself as 'spiritual correspondent
to the "Athenaeum,"' though I have a modest conviction that it might
increase your sale considerably. Ah, tread us down! put us out! You will
have some trouble with us yet. The opposition Czar of St. Petersburg
supports us, be it known, and Louis Napoleon comes to us for oracles.
The King of Holland is going mad gently in our favour--quite absorbed,
says an informant. But I won't quote kings. It is giving oneself too
great a disadvantage.

We stayed in Florence till it was oven-heat, and then we came here,
where it was fire-heat for a short time, though with cool nights
comparatively, by means of which we lived, comparatively too. Now it is
cool by day and night. You know these beautiful hills, the green rushing
river which keeps them apart, the chestnut woods, the sheep-walks and
goat-walks, the villages on the peaks of the mountains like wild eagles;
the fresh, unworn, uncivilised, world-before-the-flood look of
everything? If you don't know it, you ought to know it. Come and know
it--do! We have a spare bedroom which opens its door of itself at the
thought of you, and if you can trust yourself so far from home, try for
our sakes. Come and look in our faces and learn us more by heart, and
see whether we are not two friends. I am so very sorry for your
increased anxiety about your sister. I scarcely know how to cheer you,
or, rather, to attempt such a thing, but it did strike me that she was
full of life when I saw her. It may be better with her than your fears,
after all. If you would come to us, you would be here in two hours from
Leghorn; and there's a telegraph at Leghorn--at Florence. Think of it,
do. The Storys are at the top of the hill; you know Mr. and Mrs. Story.
She and I go backward and forward on donkeyback to tea-drinking and
gossiping at one another's houses, and our husbands hold the reins. Also
Robert and I make excursions, he walking as slowly as he can to keep up
with my donkey. When the donkey trots we are more equal. The other day
we were walking, and I, attracted by a picturesque sort of ladder-bridge
of loose planks thrown across the river, ventured on it, without
thinking of venturing. Robert held my hand. When we were in the middle
the bridge swayed, rocked backwards and forwards, and it was difficult
for either of us to keep footing. A gallant colonel who was following us
went down upon his hands and knees and crept. In the meantime a peasant
was assuring our admiring friends that the river was deep at that spot,
and that four persons had been lost from the bridge. I was so sick with
fright that I could scarcely stand when all was over, never having
contemplated an heroic act. 'Why, what a courageous creature you are!'
said our friends. So reputations are made, Mr. Chorley.

Yes, we are doing a little work, both of us. Robert is working at a
volume of lyrics, of which I have seen but a few, and those seemed to me
as fine as anything he has done. We neither of us show our work to one
another till it is finished. An artist must, I fancy, either find or
_make_ a solitude to work in, if it is to be good work at all. This for
the consolation of bachelors!

I am glad you like Mr. Powers's paper. You would have 'fretted' me
terribly if you had not, for I liked it myself, knowing it to be an
earnest opinion and expressive of the man. I had a very interesting
letter from him the other day. He is devout in his art, and the simplest
of men otherwise....

Now, I will ask you to write to us. It is _you_ who give us up, indeed.
Will your sister accept our true regards and sympathies? I shall persist
in hoping to see her a little stronger next spring--or summer, rather.
May God bless you! I will set myself down, and Robert with me, as

Faithfully and affectionately yours,
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

Casa Tolomei, Alia Villa, Bagni di Lucca:
August 20 and 21, 1853.

 ... We are enjoying the mountains here, riding the donkeys in the
footsteps of the sheep, and eating strawberries and milk by basins full.
The strawberries succeed one another, generation after generation,
throughout the summer, through growing on different aspects of the
hills. If a tree is felled in the forests strawberries spring up just as
mushrooms might, and the peasants sell them for just nothing. Our little
Penini is wild with happiness; he asks in his prayers that God would
'mate him dood and tate him on a dontey,' (make him good and take him on
a donkey), so resuming all aspiration for spiritual and worldly
prosperity. Then our friends, Mr. and Mrs. Story, help the mountains to
please us a good deal. He is the son of Judge Story, the biographer of
his father, and, for himself, sculptor and poet; and she a sympathetic,
graceful woman, fresh and innocent in face and thought. We go backwards
and forwards to tea and talk at one another's houses. Last night they
were our visitors, and your name came in among the Household Gods to
make us as agreeable as might be. We were considering your expectations
about Mr. Hawthorne. 'All right,' says Mr. Story, '_except the rare half
hours_' (of eloquence). He represents Mr. Hawthorne as not silent only
by shyness, but by nature and inaptitude. He is a man, it seems, who
talks wholly and exclusively with the pen, and who does not open out
socially with his most intimate friends any more than with strangers. It
isn't his _way_ to converse. That has been a characteristic of some men
of genius before him, you know, but you will be nevertheless
disappointed, very surely. Also, Mr. Story does not imagine that you
will get anything from him on the subject of the 'manifestations.' You
have read the 'Blithedale Romance,' and are aware of his opinion
expressed there? He evidently recognised them as a sort of scurvy
spirits, good to be slighted, because of their disreputableness. By the
way, I heard read the other day a very interesting letter from Paris,
from Mr. Appleton, Longfellow's brother-in-law, who is said to be a man
of considerable ability, and who is giving himself wholly just now to
the investigation of this spirit-subject, termed by him the 'sublimest
conundrum ever given to the world for guessing.' He appears still in
doubt whether the intelligence is external, or whether the phenomena are
not produced by an _unconscious projection in the medium of a second
personality, accompanied with clairvoyance, and attended by physical
manifestations_. This seems to me to double the difficulty; yet the idea
is entertained as a doubtful sort of hypothesis by such men as Sir
Edward Lytton and others. _Imposture_ is absolutely out of the question,
be certain, as an ultimate solution, and a greater proof of credulity
can scarcely be given than a belief in imposture as things are at
present. But I was going to tell you Mr. Appleton has a young American
friend in Paris, who, 'besides being a very sweet girl,' says he, 'is a
strong medium.' By Lamartine's desire he took her to the poet's house;
'all the phenomena were reproduced, and everybody present convinced,'
Lamartine himself 'in ecstasies.' Among other spirits came Henry Clay,
who said, 'J'aime Lamartine.' We shall have it in the next volume of
biography. Louis Napoleon gets oracles from the 'raps,' and it is said
that the Czar does the same,--your Emperor, certainly,--and the King of
Holland is allowing the subject to absorb him. 'Dying out! dying out!'
Our accounts from New York are very different, but unbelieving persons
are apt to stop their ears and exclaim, 'We hear nothing now.' On one
occasion the Hebrew Professor at New York was addressed in Hebrew to his
astonishment.

Well, I don't believe, with all my credulity, in poets being perfected
at universities. What can be more absurd than this proposition of
'finishing' Alexander Smith at Oxford or Cambridge? We don't know how to
deal with literary genius in England, certainly. We are apt to treat
poets (when we condescend to treat them at all) as over-masculine papas
do babies; and Monckton Milnes was accused of only touching his in order
to poke out its eyes, for instance. Why not put this new poet in a
public library? There are such situations even among us, and something
of the kind was done for Patmore. The very judgment Tennyson gave of
him, _in the very words_, we had given here--'fancy, not imagination.'
Also, imagery in excess; thought in deficiency. Still, the new poet is a
true poet, and the defects obvious in him may be summed up in _youth_
simply. Let us wait and see. I have read him only in extracts, such as
the reviews give, and such as a friend helped me to by good-natured MS.
It is extraordinary to me that with his amount of development, as far as
I understand it, he has met with so much rapid recognition. Tell me if
you have read 'Queechy,' the American book--novel--by Elizabeth
Wetherell? I think it very clever and characteristic. Mrs. Beecher Stowe
scarcely exceeds it, after all the trumpets. We are about to have a
visit from Mr. Lytton, Sir Edward's only son--only child now. Did I tell
you that he was a poet--yes, and of an unquestionable faculty? I expect
much from him one day, when he shakes himself clear of the poetical
influences of the age, which he will have strength to do presently. He
thinks as well as sees, and that is good....

Oh yes! I like Mr. Kingsley. I am glad he spoke kindly of _us_, because
really I like him and admire him. Few people have struck me as much as
he did last year in England. 'Manly,' do you say? But I am not very fond
of praising men by calling them _manly_. I hate and detest a masculine
man. _Humanly_ bold, brave, true, direct, Mr. Kingsley is--a moral
cordiality and an original intellect uniting in him. I did not see
_her_ and the children, but I hope we shall be in better fortune next
time.

Since I began this letter the Storys and ourselves have had a grand
donkey-excursion to a village called Benabbia, and the cross above it on
the mountain-peak. We returned in the dark, and were in some danger of
tumbling down various precipices; but the scenery was exquisite--past
speaking of for beauty. Oh those jagged mountains, rolled together like
pre-Adamite beasts, and setting their teeth against the sky! It was
wonderful. You may as well guess at a lion by a lady's lapdog as at
Nature by what you see in England. All honour to England, lanes and
meadowland, notwithstanding; to the great trees above all. Will you
write to me sooner? Will you give me the details of yourself? Will you
love me?

Your most affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

Casa Tolomei, Alia Villa, Bagni di Lucca:
August 30, [1853].

Dearest Fanny,--On your principle that 'there's too much to say,' I
ought not to think of writing to you these three months; you have
pleased me and made me grateful to such an extremity by your most pretty
and graceful illustrative outlines. The death-bed I admire particularly;
the attitudes are very expressive, and the open window helps the
sentiment. What am I to say for your kindness in holding a torch of this
kind (perfumed for the 'nobilities') between the wind and my poems?
Thank you, thank you. And when that's said, I ought to stop short and
beg you, dear Fanny, not to waste yourself in more labour of this kind,
seeing that I am accursed and that nothing is to be done with my books
and me, as far as my public is concerned. Why not get up a book of your
own, a collection of 'outlines' illustrative of everybody's poems, which
would stand well on its own feet and make a circle for itself? Think of
_that_ rather. For my part, there's nothing to be done with me, as I
said; that is, there's nothing to be done with my publishers, who just
do as they like with my books, and don't like to do much good for _me_
with them, whatever they may do for themselves. I am misanthropical in
respect to the booksellers. They manage one as they please, and not at
all to please one. I have no more to say to the fate of my books than
you have--and not much more to pocket. This third edition, for instance,
which should have been out four or five months ago, they are keeping, I
suppose, for the millennium, encouraged probably by the spiritual
manifestations; and _my_ personal manifestations meanwhile have as much
weight with them as facts have with Faraday, or the theory of fair play
with the London 'Athenaeum.' I am sick of it all, indeed. I look down on
it all as the epicurean gods do on the world without putting out a
finger to save an empire; perhaps because they can't. Long live the
----, who are kings of us. It's the best thing possible, I conclude, in
this best of possible social economies, though for ourselves
individually it may not be a very good thing; not precisely what we
should choose. Think of the separate book of outlines. Seriously, Robert
and I recommend you to consider it. You might make a book for
drawing-room tables which would be generally acceptable if not too
expensive. And Mr. Spicer is bringing me more? How kind of you. And when
is he coming? Scarcely could anyone come as a stranger whom I desire
more to see, and I do hope he will bring me facts and fantasies too on
the great subject which is interesting me so deeply. His book of 'Sights
and Sounds' we have read, but the new book has not penetrated to us.
'Sights and Sounds' is very curious, and the authenticity of its facts
has been confirmed to me by various testimonies, but the author is too
clever for his position; I mean too full of flash and wit. There's an
air of levity, and of effective writing, without which the book would
have been more impressive and convincing; don't you think so? And here
we get to the heart of most of the difficulties of the subject. Why do
we make no quicker advances, do you say? Why are our communications
chiefly trivial? Why, but because we ourselves are trivial, and don't
bring serious souls and concentrated attentions and holy aspirations to
the spirits who are waiting for these things? Spirit comes to spirit by
affinity, says Swedenborg; but our cousinship is not with the high and
noble. We try experiments from curiosity, just as children play with the
loadstone; our ducks swim, but they don't get beyond that, and _won't_,
unless we do better. _To_ prove what I say, consider what you say
yourself, that you couldn't manage to draw the same persons together
again (these very persons being persuaded of the verity of the spiritual
communications they were in reach of) on account of the difficulties of
the London season. Difficulties of the London season! The inconsequence
of human nature is more wonderful to me than the ingress of any spirits
could be. This instance is scarcely credible....

I had a letter the other day from Mr. Chorley, and he was chivalrous
enough (I call it real chivalry in his state of opinion) to deliver to
me a message from Mr. Westland Marston, whom he met at Folkestone, and
who kindly proposes to write a full account to me of his own spiritual
experiences, having heard from you that they were likely to interest me;
I mean that I was interested in the whole subject. Will you tell him
from me that I shall be most thankful for anything he will vouchsafe to
write to me, and will you give him my address? I don't know where to
find him, and Mr. Chorley is on the Continent wandering. I have seen
nothing for myself, but I am a believer upon testimony; and a stream of
Americans running through Florence, and generally making way to us, the
testimony has been various and strong. Interested in the subject! Who
can be uninterested in the subject? Even Robert is interested, who
professes to be a sceptic, an infidel indeed (though I can swear to
having seen him considerably shaken more than once), and who promises
never to believe till he has experience by his own senses. Isn't it hard
on me that I can't draw a spirit into our circle and convince him? He
would give much, he says, to find it true....

Here an end. Write soon and write much.

Your ever affectionate
E.B.B. (called BA).

Our child was gathering box leaves in a hedge the other day (wherever we
have a hedge, it's box, I would have you to understand), and pulled a
yellow flower by mistake. Down he flung it as if it stung him. 'Ah,
brutto! Colore Tedesco!' Think of that baby!

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Westwood_

Casa Tolomei, Alia Villa, Bagni di Lucca:
September [1853].

As to Patmore's new volume of poems, my husband and I had the pleasure
of reading in MS. the poem which gives its title to the book. He has a
great deal of thought and poetry in him. Alexander Smith I know by
copious extracts in reviews, and by some MSS. once sent to us by friends
and readers. Judging from those he must be set down as a true poet in
opulence of imagery, but defective, so far (he is said to be very young)
in the intellectual part of poetry. His images are flowers thrown to him
by the gods, beautiful and fragrant, but having no root either in Enna
or Olympus. There's no unity and holding together, no reality properly
so called, no thinking of any kind. I hear that Alfred Tennyson says of
him: 'He has fancy without imagination.' Still, it is difficult to say
at the dawn what may be written at noon. Certainly he is very rich and
full of colour; nothing is more surprising to me than his favourable
reception with the critics. I should have thought that his very merits
would be against him.

If you can read novels, and you have too much sense not to be fond of
them, read 'Villette.' The scene of the greater part of it is in
Belgium, and I think it a strong book. 'Ruth,' too, by Mrs. Gaskell, the
author of 'Mary Barton,' has pleased me very much. Do you know the
French novels? there's passion and power for you, if you like such
things. Balzac convinced me that the French language was malleable into
poetry. We are behindhand here in books, and elderly ones seem young to
us. For instance, we have not caught sight yet of 'Moore's Life,' the
extracts from which are unpropitious, I think. I had a fancy, I cannot
tell you how it grew, that Moore, though an artificial, therefore
inferior, poet, was a most brilliant letter-writer. His letters are
disappointing, and his mean clinging to the aristocracy still more so.

I wish you could suddenly walk into this valley, which seems to have
been made by the flashing scimitar of the river that cuts through the
mountain. Ah! you in England, and in Belgium still less, do not know
what scenery is, what Nature is when she is natural. You could as soon
guess at a tiger from the cat on the hearthstone. You do not know; but,
being a poet, you can dream. You have divine insights, as we all have,
of heaven, all of us with whom the mortal mind does not cake and
obstruct into cecity. No, no, no. I protest against anything I have not
reprinted. The Prometheus poems bear the mark of their time, which was
one of greenness and immaturity. Indeed, the responsibility for what I
_acknowledge_ in print is hard enough to bear. Don't put another stick
on the overloaded--_ass_, shall I say candidly?

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

Bagni di Lucca: October 5, [1853].

My dearest Mrs. Martin, I am delighted to have your letter at last, and
should have come upon you like a storm in a day or two if you hadn't
written, for really I began to be low in patience. Also, after having
spent the summer here, we were about to turn our faces to Florence
again, and it was necessary to my own satisfaction to let you know of
our plans for the winter. To begin with those, then, we go to Florence,
as I said, from hence, and after a week or two, or three or four as it
may be, the briefer time if we let our house, we proceed to Rome for
some months. You see we _must_ visit Rome before we go northwards, and
northwards we _must_ go in the spring, so that the logic of events seems
to secure Rome to us this time; otherwise I should still doubt of our
going there, so often have we been on the verge and caught back....

So you think that he[26] is looking 'less young than formerly,' and that
'we should all learn to hear and make such remarks with equanimity.'
Now, once for all, let me tell you--confess to you--I never, if I live
to be a hundred, should learn that learning. Death has the luminous side
when we know how to look; but the rust of time, the touch of age, is
hideous and revolting to me, and I never see it, by even a line's
breadth, in the face of any I love, without pain and recoil of nature. I
have a worse than womanly weakness about that class of subjects. Death
is a face-to-face intimacy; age, a thickening of the mortal mask between
souls. So I hate it; put it far from me. Why talk of age, when it's just
an appearance, an accident, when we are all young in soul and heart? We
don't say, one to another, 'You are freckled in the forehead to-day,' or
'There's a yellow shade in your complexion.' Leave those disagreeable
trifles. I, for my part, never felt younger. Did _you_, I wonder? To be
sure not. Also, I have a gift in my eyes, I think, for scarcely ever
does it strike me that anybody is altered, except my child, for
instance, who certainly is larger than when he was born. When I went to
England after five years' absence, everybody (save one) appeared to me
younger than I was used to conceive of them, and of course I took for
granted that I appeared to them in the same light. Be sure that it is
highly moral to be young as long as possible. Women who throw up the
game early (or even late) and wear dresses 'suitable to their years'
(that is, as hideous as possible), are a disgrace to their sex, aren't
they now? And women and men with statistical memories, who are always
quoting centuries and the years thereof ('Do you remember in '20?' _As
if anybody could_), are the pests of society. And, in short, and for my
part, whatever honours of authorship may ever befall me, I hope I may be
safe from the epithet which distinguishes the Venerable Bede.

Now, if I had written this from Paris, you would have cried out upon the
frivolity I had picked up. Who would imagine that I had just finished a
summer of mountain solitude, succeeding a winter's meditation on
Swedenborg's philosophy, and that such fruit was of it all? By the way,
tell me how it was that Paris did harm to Moore? Mentally, was it, and
morally, or in the matter of the body? I have not seen the biography
yet. Italy keeps us behind in new books. But the extracts given in
newspapers displease me through the ignoble tone of 'doing honour to the
lord,' which is anything but religious. Also, the letters seem somewhat
less brilliant than I expected from Moore; but it must be, after all, a
most entertaining book. Tell me if you have read Mrs. Gaskell's 'Ruth.'
That's a novel which I much admire. It is strong and healthy at once,
teaching a moral frightfully wanted in English society. Such an
interesting letter I had from Mrs. Gaskell a few days ago simple, worthy
of 'Ruth.' By the way, 'Ruth' is a great advance on 'Mary Barton,'
don't you think so? 'Villette,' too (Jane Eyre's), is very powerful.

Since we have been here we have had for a visitor (drawing the advantage
from our spare room) Mr. Lytton, Sir Edward's only son, who is attache
at the Florence Legation at this time. He lost nothing from the test of
house-intimacy with either of us--gained, in fact, much. Full of all
sorts of good and nobleness he really is, and gifted with high faculties
and given to the highest aspirations--not vulgar ambitions,
understand--he will never be a great diplomatist, nor fancy himself an
inch taller for being master of Knebworth.[27] Then he is somewhat
dreamy and unpractical, we must confess; he won't do for drawing carts
under any sort of discipline. Such a summer we have enjoyed here, free
from burning heats and mosquitos--the two drawbacks of Italy--and in the
heart of the most enchanting scenery. Mountains not too grand for
exquisite verdure, and just kept from touching by the silver finger of a
stream. I have been donkey-riding, and so has Wiedeman. I even went (to
prove to you how well I am) the great excursion to Prato Fiorito, six
miles there and six miles back, perpendicularly up and down. Oh, it
almost slew me of course! I could not stir for days after. But who
wouldn't see heaven and die? Such a vision of divine scenery, such as,
in England, the best dreamers do not dream of! As we came near home I
said to Mr. Lytton, who was on horseback, 'I am dying. How are you?' To
which he answered, 'I thought a quarter of an hour ago I could not keep
up to the end, but now I feel better.' This from a young man just
one-and-twenty! He is delicate, to be sure, but still you may imagine
that the day's work was not commonly fatiguing. The guides had to lead
the horses and donkeys. It was like going up and down a wall, without
the smoothness. No road except in the beds of torrents. Robert
pretended to be not tired, but, of course (as sensible people say of the
turning tables), nobody believed a word of it. It was altogether a
supernatural pretension, and very impertinent in these enlightened days.

Mr. and Mrs. Story were of our party. He is the son of Judge Story and
full of all sorts of various talent. And she is one of those cultivated
and graceful American women who take away the reproach of the national
want of refinement. We have seen much of them throughout the summer.
There has been a close communion of tea-drinking between the houses, and
as we are all going to Rome together, this pleasure is not a past
one....

We still point to Paris. Ah! you disapprove of Paris, I see, but we must
try the experiment. What I am afraid of is simply the climate. I doubt
whether I shall stand two winters running as far north as Paris, but if
I _can't_, we must come south again. Then I love Italy. Oh! if it were
not for the distance between Italy and England, we should definitively
settle here at once. We shall be in England, by the way, next summer for
pleasure and business, having, or about to have, two books to see
through the press. Not _prose_, Mr. Martin. I'm lost--devoted to the
infernal gods of rhyming. 'It's my fate,' as a popular poet said when
going to be married....

(We go on Monday. Write to Florence for the next month.)

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[Florence: autumn, 1853.]

My dearest Sarianna,--I shall not be able to write very much to-day, for
Robert is in haste, and we are both overwhelmed with different
engagements, the worst of which have been forced on me _maritally_
rather than artistically by the portrait-sittings he of course has told
you of. His own portrait, by Mr. Reade, I must be glad about, seeing
that though it by no means gives his best expression, the face is
_there_, and it will be the best work extant on the same subject. I only
wish that the artist had been satisfied with it, or taken my Penini in
the second place instead of me, who am not wanted in canvas for art's
sake, or for any other sake in the world. When gone from hence, may
nobody think of me again, except when one or two may think perhaps how I
loved them....

Do you think much of the war? I hope all will be done on the part of the
two western Powers honestly and directly; and then, may the best that
can, come out of the worst that must be. The poor Italians catch like
men in an agony at all these floating straws. We hear that the new
Austrian Commandant has received instructions to hold no intercourse
with members of the English and French Legations till further orders are
received.

We have lived a disturbed life lately; too much coming and going even
with agreeable people. There has been no time for work. In Rome it must
be different, or we shall get on poorly with our books, I think. Robert
seems, however, by his account, to be in an advanced state already....

[_Incomplete._]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

Casa Guidi: Saturday [about October, 1853].

My dearest Isa,-- ... I was very sorry on returning from Lucca to find
only Mr. Thompson's note and yours; but though we missed him at Florence
we shall see him at Rome, I hope. There was also a card from Miss
Lynch,[28] an American poetess (one of the ninety-and-nine muses), with
a note of introduction from England. Do you hear of her at Rome? The
'Ninth Street' printed on her card leaves me in the infinite as far as
conjectures of where she is go.

So pleased I am to get back to Florence, and so little inclined to
tumble out of my nest again; yet we _shall go to Rome_ if some new
obstacle does not arise. We have had no glimpse of the Tassinaris; they
seem to have vanished from the scene. Florence is full of great people,
so called, from England, and the _real sommites_ are coming, such as
Alfred Tennyson, and, with an interval, Dickens and Thackeray. The two
latter go to Rome for the winter, I understand.

Do you say _Edward Lytton_? But he isn't Edward Lytton now--he is
Robert. The two Edwards clashed inconveniently, and now he doesn't sign
an Edward even by an initial; he has renounced the name, and is a Robert
for evermore. I am glad to tell you that although he is delicate and
excitable there seems to me no tendency to disease of any kind. Indeed,
he is looking particularly well just now. He is full of sensibility,
both intellectually and morally, which is scarcely favorable to health
and long life; but in the long run, if people can run, they get over
such a disadvantage. At this time he is about to publish a collection of
poems. I think highly of his capabilities; and he is a great favorite
with both of us for various excellent reasons. Did I tell you of his
passing a fortnight with us at Lucca, and how sorry we were to lose him
at last? Sir Edward either has just brought out, or is bringing out, a
volume of poems of his own, called 'Cornflowers' (referring to the
harvest time of maturity in which he produces them), and chiefly of a
metaphysical character. His son, who has seen the manuscript, thinks
them the best of his poems. 'My Novel' is certainly excellent. Did I
tell you that I had seized and read it?

I shall get at Swedenborg in Rome, and get on with my readings. There
are deep truths in him, I cannot doubt, though I can't receive
_everything_, which may be my fault. I would fain speak with a wise
humility. We will talk on these things and the spirits. How that last
subject attracts me! It strikes me that we are on the verge of great
developments of the spiritual nature, and that in a philosophical point
of view (apart from ulterior ends) the facts are worthy of all
admiration and meditation. If a spiritual influx, it is _mixed_--good
and evil together. The fact of there being a mixture of evil justifies
Swedenborg's philosophy (does it not?) without concluding against the
movement generally. We were at the Pergola the other night, and heard
the 'Trovatore,' Verdi's new work. Very passionate and dramatic, surely.
The Storys are here on their way back to Rome. Oh, I mean to convert
you, Isa! Is it true that the fever at Rome is still raging? Give my
love to your dear invalid, who must be comforting you so much with her
improvement. Penini is in a chronic state of packing up his desk to go
to '_Bome_.' Robert's love with mine as ever. I can't write either
legibly or otherwise than stupidly on this detestable paper, having
never learnt to skate. Are we giving you too much trouble, dearest, kind
Isa?

Your affectionate friend
E.B.B.

       *       *       *       *       *


After a few weeks only at Florence the Brownings moved on to Rome and
there (at No. 43 Via Bocca di Leone) they passed the winter. Both were
now actively engaged on their new volumes of poetry--Mr. Browning on his
'Men and Women,' Mrs. Browning on 'Aurora Leigh,' both of which were,
however, still far from completion.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

Via Bocca di Leone, Rome: December 21, 1853.

My dearest Mona Nina,--I have been longer than I thought to be in Rome
without writing to you, especially when I have a letter of yours for
which to thank you. My fancy was to wait till I had seen Gerardine in
her own home, and then to write to you, but I have called on her three
times, and the three Fates have been at it each time to prevent my
getting in. Still, we have met _here_, and I would rather not wait any
longer for whatever might be added to what I have seen and know
already....

Ah, dearest friend! you have heard how our first step into Rome was a
fall, not into a catacomb but a fresh grave[29], and how everything here
has been slurred and blurred to us, and distorted from the grand antique
associations. I protest to you I doubt whether I shall get over it, and
whether I ever shall feel that this is Rome. The first day at the bed's
head of that convulsed and dying child; and the next two, three, four
weeks in great anxiety about his little sister, who was all but given up
by the physicians; the English nurse horribly ill of the same fever, and
another case in this house. It was not only sympathy. I was selfishly
and intensely frightened for my own treasures; I wished myself at the
end of the world with Robert and Penini twenty times a day. Rome has
been very peculiarly unhealthy; and I heard a Monsignore observe the
other morning that there would not be much truce to the fever till March
came. Still, I begin to take breath again and be reasonable. Penini's
cheeks are red as apples, and if we avoid the sun, and the wind, and the
damp, and, above all if God takes care of us, we shall do excellently.
_I_, of course, am in a flourishing condition; walk out nearly every day
and scarcely cough at all. Which isn't enough for me, you see. Dear
friend, we have not set foot in the Vatican. Oh, barbarians!

But we have seen Mrs. Kemble, and I am as enchanted as I ought to be,
and even, perhaps, a little more. She has been very kind and gracious to
me; she was to have spent an evening with us three days since, but
something intervened. I am much impressed by her as well as attracted to
her. What a voice, what eyes, what eyelids full of utterance!

Then we have had various visits from Mr. Thackeray and his daughters.
'She writes to me of Thackeray instead of Raffael, and she is at Rome'!
But she _isn't_ at Rome. There's the sadness of it. We got to Gibson's
studio, which is close by, and saw his coloured Venus. I don't like her.
She has come out of her cloud of the ideal, and to my eyes is not too
decent. Then in the long and slender throat, in the turn of it, and the
setting on of the head, you have rather a grisette than a goddess. 'Tis
over pretty and _petite_, the colour adding, of course, to this effect.
Crawford's studio (the American sculptor) was far more interesting to me
than Gibson's. By the way, Mr. Page's portrait of Miss Cushman is really
something wonderful--soul and body together. You can show nothing like
it in England, take for granted. Indeed, the American artists consider
themselves a little aggrieved when you call it as good as a Titian.
'_Did_ Titian ever produce anything like it?' said an admirer in my
hearing. Critics wonder whether the colour will _stand_. It is a theory
of this artist that time does not _tone_, and that Titian's pictures
were painted as we see them. The consequence of which is that his
(Page's) pictures are undertoned in the first instance, and if they
change at all will turn black[30]. May all Boston rather turn black,
which it may do one of these days by an eruption from the South, when
'Uncle Tomison' gets strong enough.

We have been to St. Peter's; we have stood in the Forum and seen the
Coliseum. Penini says: 'The sun has tome out. I think God knows I want
to go out to walk, and _so_ He has sent the sun out.' There's a child
who has faith enough to put us all to shame. A vision of angels wouldn't
startle him in the least. When his poor little friend died, and we had
to tell him, he inquired, fixing on me those earnest blue eyes, 'Did
papa _see_ the angels when they took away Joe?' And when I answered 'No'
(for I never try to deceive him by picturesque fictions, I should not
dare, I tell him simply what I believe myself), 'Then did Joe _go up_ by
himself?' In a moment there was a burst of cries and sobs. The other day
he asked me if I thought _Joe had seen the Dute of Wellyton_. He has a
medal of the Duke of Wellington, which put the name into his head.
By-the-bye, Robert yesterday, in a burst of national vanity, informed
the child that this was the man who beat Napoleon. 'Then I sint he a
velly naughty man. What! he beat Napoleon _wiz a stit_?' (with a stick).
Imagine how I laughed, and how Robert himself couldn't help laughing.
So, the seraphs judge our glories!

If you have seen Sir David Brewster lately I should like to know whether
he has had more experience concerning the tables, and has modified his
conclusions in any respect. I myself am convinced as I can be of any
fact, that there is an _external intelligence_; the little I have seen
is conclusive to me. And this makes me more anxious that the subject
should be examined with common fairness by learned persons. Only the
learned won't learn--that's the worst of them. Their hands are too full
to gather simples. It seems to me a new development of law in the human
constitution, which has worked before in exceptional cases, but now
works in general.

Dearest friend, I do not speak of your own anxious watch and tender
grief, but think of them deeply. Believe that I love you always and in
all truth.

Your
E.B.B.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

[Rome:] 43 Bocca di Leone: December 27, [1853].

My dearest Fanny,--I can't judge of your 'obstacles,' of course, but as
to your being snowed up on the road or otherwise impeded between Rome
and Civita (Castellana or Vecchia), there's certainly not room for even
a dream of it. There has been beautiful weather here ever since we came,
except for exacting invalids. I, for instance, have been kept in the
house for a fortnight or more (till Christmas Day, when I was able to
get to St. Peter's) by tramontana; but there has been sun on _most_ days
of cold, and nothing has been _severe_ as cold. The hard weather came in
November, before we arrived. I was out yesterday, and may be to-day,
perhaps. 'Judge ye!'...

You bid me write. But to what end, if you are here on New Year's Day?
There's not time for a letter.

And at first I intended not to write, till beginning to consider how, as
you are not actually of the race of Medes and Persians, you might
possibly so modify your plans as to be able to receive these lines. Oh,
a provoking person or persons you are, since you and Ellen Heaton are
plural henceforth! No, I won't include her. _You_ are _singular_, by
your own confession, on this occasion. And, instead of Christmas
solemnisations, I shall take to reading the Commination Service over you
if you stay any longer at Florence because of the impracticable,
snowed-up roads around Rome. You really might as well object to coming
on account of the heat!...

I thank you very much for meaning to bring my goods for me. I wish I
could have seen your pictures before they took to themselves golden
wings and fled away. Is it true, really, that you think to exhibit in
London Penini's portrait at the piano, as Sophie Eckley tells me? I
shall like to hear that you succeed in that.

I see _her_ every day almost, if not quite. Nobody is like her. And
there are quantities of people here to choose from. I have not taken
heart and 'an evening for reception' yet, but we have had '_squeezes_'
of more or less stringency. Miss Ogle is here--and her family, of
course, for she is young--the author of 'A Lost Love,' that very pretty
book; and she is natural and pleasing. Do you know Lady Oswald, and her
daughter and son? She is Lady Elgin's sister-in-law, and brought a
letter to me from Lady Augusta Bruce. Then the Marshalls found us out
through Mr. De Vere (_her_ cousin), and in the name of Alfred Tennyson
(their intimate friend). Mrs. Marshall was a Miss Spring Rice, and is
very refined in all senses. Refinement expresses the whole woman. Yes,
there are some nice people here--nice people; it's the word. Nobody as
near to me as Mr. Page, whom we often see, I am happy to say, and who
has just presented the world (only _that_ is generally said of the lady)
with a _son_, and is on the point of presenting said world with a Venus.
_Will_ you come to see? I wonder....

I want you here to see a portrait taken of me in chalks by Miss Fox. I
said 'No' to her in London, which was my sole reason for saying 'Yes' to
her in Rome, when she asked me for a patient--or victim. She draws well,
and has been very successful with the hair at least. For the likeness
you shall judge for yourself. She comes here for an hour in the morning
to execute me, and I'm as well as can be expected under it....

May God bless you, dearest Fanny. What Christmas wishes warm from the
heart by heartfuls I throw at you! And say to Ellen Heaton, with cordial
love, that I thank her much for her kind letter, and remember her in all
affectionate wishes made for friends. I shall write to Mr. Ruskin.
_Don't_ get this letter, I say.

Your
E.B.B.

Robert's love, and _Penini's_. If 'Fanny' strikes you, 'Madame Bovary'
will thunder-strike you.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

43 Via di Leone, Rome: January 7, 18[54].

It is long, my ever dearest Miss Mitford, since I wrote to you last, but
since we came to Rome we have had troubles, out of the deep pit of which
I was unwilling to write to you, lest the shadows of it should cleave as
blots to my pen. Then one day followed another, and one day's work was
laid on another's shoulders. Well, we are all well, to begin with, and
have been well; our troubles came to us through sympathy entirely. A
most exquisite journey of eight days we had from Florence to Rome,
seeing the great monastery and triple church of Assisi and the wonderful
Terni by the way--that passion of the waters which makes the human heart
seem so still. In the highest spirits we entered Rome, Robert and Penini
singing actually; for the child was radiant and flushed with the
continual change of air and scene, and he had an excellent scheme about
'tissing the Pope's foot,' to prevent his taking away 'mine gun,'
somebody having told him that such dangerous weapons were not allowed by
the Roman police. You remember my telling you of our friends the
Storys--how they and their two children helped to make the summer go
pleasantly at the baths of Lucca? They had taken an apartment for us in
Rome, so that we arrived in comfort to lighted fires and lamps as if
coming home, and we had a glimpse of their smiling faces that evening.
In the morning, before breakfast, little Edith was brought over to us by
the manservant with a message--'The boy was in convulsions; there was
danger.' We hurried to the house, of course, leaving Edith with Wilson.
Too true! All that first day was spent beside a death-bed; for the child
never rallied, never opened his eyes in consciousness, and by eight in
the evening he was gone. In the meanwhile, Edith was taken ill at our
house--could not be moved, said the physicians. We had no room for her,
but a friend of the Storys on the floor immediately below--Mr. Page, the
artist--took her in and put her to bed. Gastric fever, with a tendency
to the brain, and within two days her life was almost despaired of;
exactly the same malady as her brother's. Also the English nurse was
apparently dying at the Storys' house, and Emma Page, the artist's
youngest daughter, sickened with the same symptoms. Now you will not
wonder that, after the first absorbing flow of sympathy, I fell into a
selfish human panic about my child. Oh, I 'lost my head,' said Robert;
and if I _could_ have caught him up in my arms and run to the ends of
the world, the hooting after me of all Rome could not have stopped me. I
wished--how I wished!--for the wings of a dove, or any unclean bird, to
fly away with him to be at peace. But there was no possibility but to
stay; also the physicians assured me solemnly that there was no
contagion possible, otherwise I would have at least sent him from us to
another house. To pass over this dreary time, I will tell you at once
that the three patients recovered; only in poor little Edith's case
Roman fever followed the gastric, and has persisted so, ever since, in
periodical recurrence, that she is very pale and thin. Roman fever is
not dangerous to life--simple fever and ague--but it is exhausting if
not cut off, and the quinine fails sometimes. For three or four days now
she has been free from the symptoms, and we are beginning to hope. Now
you will understand at once what ghastly flakes of death have changed
the sense of Rome to me. The first day by a death-bed! The first drive
out to the cemetery, where poor little Joe is laid close to Shelley's
heart (_Cor cordium_, says the epitaph), and where the mother insisted
on going when she and I went out in the carriage together. I am horribly
weak about such things. I can't look on the earth-side of death; I
flinch from corpses and graves, and never meet a common funeral without
a sort of horror. When I look deathwards I look _over_ death, and
upwards, or I can't look that way at all. So that it was a struggle
with me to sit upright in that carriage in which the poor stricken
mother sate so calmly--not to drop from the seat, which would have been
worse than absurd of me. Well, all this has blackened Rome to me. I
can't think about the Caesars in the old strain of thought; the antique
words get muddled and blurred with warm dashes of modern, every-day
tears and fresh grave-clay. Rome is spoiled to me--there's the truth.
Still, one lives through one's associations when not too strong, and I
have arrived at almost enjoying some things--the climate, for instance,
which, though perilous to the general health, agrees particularly with
me, and the sight of the blue sky floating like a sea-tide through the
great gaps and rifts of ruins. We read in the papers of a tremendously
cold winter in England and elsewhere, while I am able on most days to
walk out as in an English summer, and while we are all forced to take
precautions against the sun. Also Robert is well, and our child has not
dropped a single rose-leaf from his radiant cheeks. We are very
comfortably settled in rooms turned to the sun, and do work and play by
turns--having almost too many visitors--hear excellent music at Mrs.
Sartoris's (Adelaide Kemble) once or twice a week, and have Fanny Kemble
to come and talk to us with the doors shut, we three together. This is
pleasant. I like her decidedly. If anybody wants small-talk by handfuls
of glittering dust swept out of salons, here's Mr. Thackeray besides;
and if anybody wants a snow-man to match Southey's snow-woman (see
'Thalaba'), here's Mr. Lockhart, who, in complexion, hair, conversation,
and manners, might have been made out of one of your English
'_drifts_'--'sixteen feet deep in some places,' says Galignani. Also,
here's your friend _V._--Mrs. Archer Clive.[31] We were at her house the
other evening. She seems good-natured, but what a very peculiar person
as to looks, and even voice and general bearing; and what a peculiar
unconsciousness of peculiarity. I do not know her much. I go out very
little in the evening, both from fear of the night air and from
disinclination to stir. Mr. Page, our neighbour downstairs, pleases me
much, and you ought to know more of him in England, for his portraits
are like Titian's--flesh, blood, and soul. I never saw such portraits
from a living hand. He professes to have discovered secrets, and plainly
_knows_ them, from his wonderful effects of colour on canvas--not merely
in words. His portrait of Miss Cushman is a miracle. Gibson's famous
painted Venus is very pretty--that's my criticism. Yes, I will say
besides that I have seldom, if ever, seen so indecent a statue. The
colouring with an approximation to flesh tints produces that effect, to
my apprehension. I don't like this statue colouring--no, not at all.
Dearest Miss Mitford, will you write to me? I don't ask for a long
letter, but a letter--a letter. And I entreat you not to _prepay_. Among
other disadvantages, that prepaying tendency of yours may lose me a
letter one day. I want much to hear how you are bearing the winter--how
you are. Give me details about your dear self.

[_The remainder of this letter is missing_]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Westwood_

43 Via Bocca di Leone, Rome: February 2, [1854].

Thank you, my dear Mr. Westwood, for your kind defence of me against the
stupid, blind, cur-dog backbiting of the American writer. I will tell
you. Three weeks ago I had a letter from my brother, apprising me of
what had been said, and pressing on me the propriety of a contradiction
in form. Said I in reply: 'When you marry a wife, George, take her from
the class of those who have never printed a book, if this thing vexes
you. A woman in a crowd can't help the pushing up against her of dirty
coats; happy if somebody in boots does not tread upon her toes! Words
to that effect, I said. I really could not do the American the honour of
sitting down at the table with him to say: 'Sir, you are considerably
mistaken.' He was not only mistaken, you see, but so stupid and
self-willed in his mistake, so determined to make a system of it, but he
was too disreputable to set right. Also of the tendency of one's
writings one's readers are the best judges. I don't profess to write a
religious commentary on my writings. I am content to stand by the
obvious meaning of what I have written, according to the common sense of
the general reader.

The tendency of my writings to Swedenborgianism has been observed by
others, though I had read Swedenborg, when I wrote most of them, as
little as the American editor of 'Robert Hall' can have done, and less
can't be certainly. Otherwise, the said editor would have known that the
central doctrine of Swedenborgianism being the Godhead of Jesus Christ,
no Unitarian, liberal or unliberal, could have produced works
Swedenborgian in character, and that William and Mary Howitt being
Unitarian (which I believe they are) couldn't have a tendency at the
same time to Swedenborgianism, unless it should be possible for them to
be bolt upright with a leaning to the floor. I speak to a wise man.
Judge what I say. For my own part I have thought freely on most
subjects, and upon the state of the Churches among others, but never at
any point of my life, and now, thank God, least of all, have I felt
myself drawn towards Unitarian opinions. I should throw up revelation
altogether if I ceased to recognise Christ as divine. Sectarianism I do
not like, even in the form of a State Church, and the Athanasian way of
stating opinions, between a scholastic paradox and a curse, is
particularly distasteful to me. But I hold to Christ's invisible Church
as referred to in Scripture, and to the Saviour's humanity and divinity
as they seem to me conspicuous in Scripture, and so you have done me
justice and the American has done me injustice....

Well, I have seen your Mrs. Brotherton, only once, though, because she
can't come to see me at all, and lives too far for me to go in the
winter weather. I shall see more of her presently, I hope, and in the
meantime she is very generous to me, and sends me violets, and notes
that are better, and we have a great sympathy on the spiritual subjects
which set you so in a passion. What do I say? She sends me Greek (of
which she does not know a single character), written by her, or rather
_through_ her; mystical Greek, from a spirit-world, produced by her
hands, she herself not knowing what she writes. The character is
beautifully written, and the separate words are generally correct--such
words as 'Christ,' 'God,' 'tears,' 'blood,' 'tempest,' 'sea,' 'thunder,'
'calm,' 'morning,' 'sun,' 'joy.' No grammatical construction hitherto,
but a significant sort of grouping of the separate words, as if the
meaning were struggling out into coherence. My idea is that she is being
exercised in the language, in the _character_, in order to fuller
expression hereafter. Well, you would have us snowed upon with poppies
till we sleep and forget these things. I, on the contrary, would have
our eyes wide open, our senses 'all attentive,' our souls lifted in
reverential expectation. Every _fact_ is a word of God, and I call it
irreligious to say, 'I will deny this because it displeases me.' 'I will
look away from that because it will do me harm.' Why be afraid of the
_truth_? God is in the truth, and He is called also Love. The evil
results of certain experiences of this class result mainly from the
superstitions and distorted views held by most people concerning the
spiritual world. We have to learn--we in the body--that Death does not
teach all things. Death is simply an accident. Foolish Jack Smith who
died on Monday, is on Tuesday still foolish Jack Smith. If people who on
Monday scorned his opinions prudently, will on Tuesday receive his least
words as oracles, they very naturally may go mad, or at least do
something as foolish as their inspirer is. Also, it is no argument
against any subject, that it drives people mad who suffer themselves to
be absorbed in it. That would be an argument against all religion, and
all love, by your leave. Ask the Commissioners of Lunacy; knock at the
door of mad-houses in general, and inquire what two causes act almost
universally in filling them. Answer--love and religion. The common
objection of the degradation of knocking with the leg of the table, and
the ridicule of the position for a spirit, &c., &c., I don't enter into
at all. Twice I have been present at table-experiments, and each time I
was deeply impressed--impressed, there's the word for it! The panting
and shivering of that dead dumb wood, the human emotion conveyed through
it--by what? had to me a greater significance than the St. Peter's of
this Rome. O poet! do you not know that poetry is not confined to the
clipped alleys, no, nor to the blue tops of 'Parnassus hill'? Poetry is
where we live and have our being--wherever God works and man
understands. Hein! ... if you are in a dungeon and a friend knocks
through the outer wall, spelling out by knocks the words you comprehend;
you don't think the worse of the friend standing in the sun who
remembers you. He is not degraded by it, you rather think. Now apply
this. Certainly, there is a reaction from the materialism of the age,
and this is certainly well, in my mind, but then there is something more
than this, more than a mere human reaction, I believe. I have not the
power of writing myself at all, though I have felt the pencil turn in my
hand--a peculiar spiral motion like the turning of the tables, and
independent of volition, but the power is not with me strong enough to
make words or letters even.

We see a good deal of Fanny Kemble, a noble creature, and hear her
sister sing--Mrs. Sartoris. Do admit a little society. It is good for
soul and body, and on the Continent it is easy to get a handful of
society without paying too dear for it. That, I think, is an advantage
of Continental life.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

43 Via Bocca di Leone, Rome: March 19, 1854.

My dearest Miss Mitford,--Your letter made my heart ache. It is sad, sad
indeed, that you should have had this renewed cold just as you appeared
to be rallying a little from previous shocks, and I know how depressing
and enfeebling a malady the influenza is. It's the vulture finishing the
work of the wolf. I pray God that, having battled through this last
attack, you may be gradually strengthened and relieved by the incoming
of the spring (though an English spring makes one shiver to think of
generally), and with the summer come out into the garden, to sit in a
chair and be shone upon, dear, dear friend. I shall be in England then,
and get down to see you this time, and I tenderly hold to the dear hope
of seeing you smile again, and hearing you talk in the old way....

We see a good deal of the Kembles here, and like them both, especially
the Fanny, who is looking magnificent still, with her black hair and
radiant smile. A very noble creature, indeed. Somewhat unelastic,
unpliant to the eye, attached to the old modes of thought and
convention, but noble in quality and defects; I like her much. She
thinks me credulous and full of dreams, but does not despise me for that
reason, which is good and tolerant of her, and pleasant, too, for I
should not be quite easy under her contempt. Mrs. Sartoris is genial and
generous, her milk has had time to stand to cream, in her happy family
relations. The Sartoris's house has the best society at Rome, and
exquisite music, of course. We met Lockhart there, and my husband sees a
good deal of him--more than I do, because of the access of cold weather
lately which has kept me at home chiefly. Robert went down to the
seaside in a day's excursion with him and the Sartoris's; and, I hear,
found favor in his sight. Said the critic: 'I like Browning, he isn't at
all like a damned literary man.' That's a compliment, I believe,
according to your dictionary. It made me laugh and think of you
directly. I am afraid Lockhart's health is in a bad state; he looks very
ill, and every now and then his strength seems to fail. Robert has been
sitting for his picture to Fisher, the English artist, who painted Mr.
Kenyon and Landor; you remember those pictures in Mr. Kenyon's house?
Landor's was praised much by Southey. Well, he has painted Robert, and
it is an admirable likeness.[32] The expression is an exceptional
expression, but highly characteristic; it is one of Fisher's best works.
Now he is about our Wiedeman, and if he succeeds as well in painting
angels as men, will do something beautiful with that seraphic face. You
are to understand that these works are done by the artist _for_ the
artist. Oh, we couldn't afford to have such a luxury as a portrait done
for us. But I am pleased to have a good likeness of each of my treasures
_extant_ in the possession of somebody. Robert's will, of course, be
eminently saleable, and Wiedeman's too, perhaps, for the beauty's sake,
with those blue far-reaching eyes, and that innocent angel face emplumed
in the golden ringlets! Somebody told me yesterday that she never had
known, in a long experience of children, so attractive a child. He is so
full of sweetness and vivacity together, of imagination and grace. A
poetical child really, and in the best sense. Such a piece of innocence
and simplicity with it all, too! A child you couldn't lie to if you
tried. I had a fit of remorse for telling him the history of Jack and
the Beanstalk, when he turned his earnest eyes up to me at the end and
said, 'I think, if Jack went up so high, he must have seen God.'

To see those two works through the press must be a fatigue to you in
your present weak state, dearest friend, and I keep wishing vainly I
could be of use to you in the matter of the proof sheets. I might, you
know, if I were in England. I do some work myself, but doubt much
whether I shall be ready for the printers by July; no, indeed, it is
clear I shall not. If Robert is, it will be well. Doesn't it surprise
you that Alexander Smith should be already in a third edition? I can't
make it out for my part. I 'give it up' as is my way with riddles. He is
both too bad and too good to explain this phenomenon, which is harder to
me than any implied in the turning tables or involuntary writing. By the
way, a lady whom I know here _writes Greek_ without knowing or having
ever known a single letter of it. The unbelievers writhe under it.

Oh, I have been reading poor Haydon's biography. There is tragedy! The
pain of it one can hardly shake off. Surely, surely, wrong was done
somewhere, when the worst is admitted of Haydon. For himself, looking
forward beyond the grave, I seem to understand that all things when most
bitter worked ultimate good to him, for that sublime arrogance of his
would have been fatal perhaps to the moral nature if developed further
by success. But for the nation we had our duties, and we should not
suffer our teachers and originators to sink thus. It is a book written
in blood of the heart. Poor Haydon!

May God bless you, my dear friend! I think of you and love you dearly,
Robert's love, put to mine, and Penini's love put to Robert's. I give
away Penini's love as I please just now.

Your ever affectionate
E.B.B.

Send my bulletins; only _two lines_ if you will.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[Rome: about March, 1854.]

My dearest Sarianna,--We are all well, and so is the weather, which is
diviner. We sit with the windows wide open, and find it almost too warm,
and to-day Robert and I have been wandering under the trees of the
Pincio and looking to the Monte Marino pine. Let the best come, I don't
like Rome, I never shall; and as they have put into the English
newspapers that I don't, I might as well acknowledge the barbarism. Very
glad I shall be to see you and Paris, even though my beloved Florence
shall be left behind. Dearest Sarianna, after a short rest at Paris, we
go on to London for the printing of Robert's book (mine won't be ready
till later in the year), and for the sight of some dear English faces
while the weather shall admit of it, before we settle for the winter in
France. Well, you will go with us to England, won't you? The dear
nonno[33] will spare you to go with us? It will do you good, and it will
do us good, certainly.

I quite agree with you that there's no situation like the Champs
Elysees--really, there is scarcely anything like it in Europe, if you
put away Venice--for a situation in a city.

The worst of the Champs Elysees is that it is out of the way, and
expensive on the point of carriages when you can't walk far. People tell
you, too, that the air is sharper at the end of the avenue; yet the sun
is so brilliant as to make amends for the disadvantage, if it exists.
Then you pay more for houses on account of the concourse of English. And
what if I object a little to the English besides? If I do, the
desirableness of the pure air and free walking for Penini
counterbalances them.

The Thackeray girls have had the scarlatina at Naples, and have been
very desolate, I fear, without a female servant or friend near them.
They probably were indisposed towards Naples by their own illness (which
was slight, however; the scarlet fever is always slight in Italy they
say), and by their father's more serious attack, for I have heard very
different accounts of the Neapolitan weather. Still, it has been an
abnormal winter everywhere, and there are cold winds on that coast on
certain months of the year always. Lockhart has gone away with the Duke
of Wellington, who was in deep consideration how he should manage his
funeral on the road. Robert was present when the question was mooted on
the Duke's last evening. _Should_ he send the body to England or bury
it? Would it be delicate to ask Lockhart which he preferred? Somebody
said: 'Suppose you were to ask what he would do with your body if you
died yourself.' I am afraid poor Lockhart is really in a dangerous state
of health, and that it would have been better if he had had something
tenderer and more considerate than a dukedom travelling with him under
his circumstances. He called upon us, and took a great fancy to Robert,
I understand, as being 'not at all like a damned literary man.'

Penini is overwhelmed with attentions and gifts of all kinds, and
generally acknowledged as the king of the children here. Mrs. Page, the
wife of the distinguished American artist, gave a party in honor of him
the other day. There was an immense cake inscribed '_Penini_' in sugar;
and he sat at the head of the table and did the honors. You never saw a
child so changed in point of shyness. He will go anywhere with anybody,
and talk, and want none of us to back him. Wilson is only instructed not
to come till it is 'velly late' to fetch him away. He talks to Fanny
Kemble, who 'dashes' most people. 'I not aflaid of nossing,' says he, in
his eloquent English. Mr. Fisher's cartoon of him is very pretty, but
doesn't do him justice in the delicacy of the lower part of the face.
Yet I can't complain of Mr. Fisher after the admirable likeness he has
painted of Robert. It is really _satisfying_ to me. You will see it in
London. Oh, how cruel it is that we can't buy it, Sarianna; I have a
sort of hope that Mr. Kenyon may--but zitto, zitto![34] Arabel will be
very grateful to you for the drawings....

[_Endorsed by Miss Browning_, '_Part of a letter_']

       *       *       *       *       *


The plans, thus confidently spoken of, for a visit to Paris and London
in the summer of this year, did not attain fulfilment. The Brownings
left Rome for Florence about the end of May, intending to stay there
only a few weeks; but their arrangements were altered by letters
received from England, and ultimately they remained in Florence until
the summer of the following year. Whether for this reason, or because
the poems were not, after all, ready for press, the printing of Mr.
Browning's new volumes ('Men and Women') was also postponed, and they
did not appear until 1855; while 'Aurora Leigh' was still a long way
from completion.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

Rome: May 10, 1854.

My ever dearest Miss Mitford,--Your letter pained me to a degree which I
will not pain you by expressing farther. Now, I do not write to press
for another letter. On the contrary, I _entreat_ you not to attempt to
write a word to me with your own hand, until you can do so without
effort and suffering. In the meanwhile, would it be impossible for K. to
send me in one line some account of you? I don't mean to tease, but I
should be very glad and thankful to have news of you though in the
briefest manner, and if a letter were addressed to me at Poste Restante,
Florence, it would reach me, as we rest there on our road to Paris and
London. In any case I shall see you this summer, if it shall please God;
and stay with you the half hour you allow, and kiss your dear hands and
feel again, I hope, the brightness of your smile. As the green summer
comes on you must be the better surely; if you can bear to lie out under
the trees, the general health will rally and the local injury correct
itself. You must have a strong, energetic vitality; and, after all,
spinal disorders do not usually attack life, though they disable and
overthrow. The pain you endure is the terrible thing. Has a local
application of chloroform been ever tried? I catch at straws, perhaps,
with my unlearned hands, but it's the instinct of affection. While you
suffer, my dear friend, the world is applauding you. I catch sight of
stray advertisements and fragmentary notices of 'Atherton,' which seems
to have been received everywhere with deserved claps of hands. This will
not be comfort to you, perhaps; but you will feel the satisfaction which
every workman feels in successful work. I think the edition of plays and
poems has not yet appeared, and I suppose there will be nothing in
_that_ which can be new to us. 'Atherton' I thirst for, but the cup will
be dry, I dare say, till I get to England, for new books even at
Florence take waiting for far beyond all necessary bounds. We shall not
stay long in Tuscany. We want to be in England late in June or very
early in July, and some days belong to Paris as we pass, since Robert's
family are resident there. To leave Rome will fill me with barbarian
complacency. I don't pretend to have a rag of sentiment about Rome. It's
a palimpsest Rome--a watering-place written over the antique--and I
haven't taken to it as a poet should, I suppose; only let us speak the
truth, above all things. I am strongly a creature of association, and
the associations of the place have not been personally favorable to me.
Among the rest my child, the light of my eyes, has been more unwell
lately than I ever saw him in his life, and we were forced three times
to call in a physician. The malady was not serious, it was just the
result of the climate, relaxation of the stomach, &c., but the end is
that he is looking a delicate, pale, little creature, he who was radiant
with all the roses and stars of infancy but two months ago. The
pleasantest days in Rome we have spent with the Kembles--the two
sisters--who are charming and excellent, both of them, in different
ways; and certainly they have given us some exquisite hours on the
Campagna, upon picnic excursions, they and certain of their friends--for
instance, M. Ampere, the member of the French Institute, who is witty
and agreeable; M. Gorze, the Austrian Minister, also an agreeable man;
and Mr. Lyons, the son of Sir Edmund, &c. The talk was almost too
brilliant for the sentiment of the scenery, but it harmonised entirely
with the mayonnaise and champagne. I should mention, too, Miss Hosmer
(but she is better than a talker), the young American sculptress, who is
a great pet of mine and of Robert's, and who emancipates the eccentric
life of a perfectly 'emancipated female' from all shadow of blame by the
purity of hers. She lives here all alone (at twenty-two); dines and
breakfasts at the _cafes_ precisely as a young man would; works from six
o'clock in the morning till night, as a great artist must, and this with
an absence of pretension and simplicity of manners which accord rather
with the childish dimples in her rosy cheeks than with her broad
forehead and high aims. The Archer Clives have been to Naples, but have
returned for a time. Mr. Lockhart, who went to England with the Duke of
Wellington (the same prepared to bury him on the road), writes to Mrs.
Sartoris that he has grown much better under the influence of the native
beef and beer. To do him justice he looked, when here, innocent of the
recollection even of either. I wonder if you have seen Mrs. Howe's
poems, lately out, called 'Passion Flowers.' They were sent to me by an
American friend but were intercepted _en route_, so that I have not set
eyes on them yet, but one or two persons, not particularly reliable as
critics, have praised them to me. She is the wife of Dr. Howe, the deaf
and dumb philanthropist, and herself neither deaf nor dumb (very much
the contrary) I understand--a handsome woman and brilliant in society. I
gossip on to you, dearest dear Miss Mitford, as if you were in gossiping
humour. Believe that my tender thoughts, deeper than any said, are with
you always.

Robert's love with that of your attached
BA.

We go on the 22nd of this month. You have seen Mr. Chorley's book, I
daresay, which I should like much to see.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

Casa Guidi: Thursday, [end of May 1854].

My dearest Sarianna,--I am delighted to say that we have arrived, and
see our dear Florence, the queen of Italy, after all. On the road I said
to Penini, 'Make a poem about Florence.' Without a moment's hesitation
he began, 'Florence is more pretty of all. Florence is a beauty.
Florence was born first, and then Rome was born. And Paris was born
after.' Penini is always _en verve_. He's always ready to make a poem on
any subject, and doesn't ask you to wait while he clears his voice. The
darling will soon get over the effect of that poisonous Roman air, I do
trust, though it is humiliating to hear our Florentines wailing over the
loss of bloom and dimples; it doesn't console me that his amount of
growth is properly acknowledged. Well, good milk and good air will do
their work in a little time with God's blessing, and a most voracious
appetite is developed already, I am glad to say. Even in the journey he
revived, the blue marks under the darling eyes fading gradually away,
and now he looks decidedly better, though unlike himself of two months
ago. You are to understand that the child is perfectly well, and that
the delicate look is traceable distinctly and only to the attacks he had
in Rome during the last few weeks. Throughout the winter he was radiant,
as I used to tell you, and the confessed king of the whole host of his
contemporaries and country-babies....

_The Kembles_ were our gain in Rome. I appreciate and admire both of
them. They fail in nothing as you see them nearer. Noble and upright
women, whose social brilliancy is their least distinction! Mrs. Sartoris
is the more tender and tolerant, the more loveable and sympathetical,
perhaps, to me. I should like you to know them both. Then there is that
dear Mr. Page. Yes, and Harriet Hosmer, the young American sculptress,
who is an immense favorite with us both.

A comfort is that Robert is considered here to be looking better than he
ever was known to look. And this notwithstanding the greyness of his
beard, which indeed is, in my own mind, very becoming to him, the
argentine touch giving a character of elevation and thought to the whole
physiognomy. This greyness was suddenly developed; let me tell you how.
He was in a state of bilious irritability on the morning of his arrival
in Rome from exposure to the sun or some such cause, and in a fit of
suicidal impatience shaved away his whole beard, whiskers and all! I
_cried_ when I saw him, I was so horror-struck. I might have gone into
hysterics and still been reasonable; for no human being was ever so
disfigured by so simple an act. Of course I said, when I recovered
breath and voice, that everything was at an end between him and me if he
didn't let it all grow again directly, and (upon the further advice of
his looking-glass) he yielded the point, and the beard grew. But it grew
_white_, which was the just punishment of the gods--our sins leave their
traces.

Well, poor darling, Robert won't shock you after all, you can't choose
but be satisfied with his looks. M. de Monclar swore to me that he was
not changed for the intermediate years.

Robert talks of money, of waiting for _that_, among other hindrances to
setting out directly. Not _my_ fault, be certain, Sarianna! We seem to
have a prospect of letting our house for a year, which, if the thing
happens, will give us a lift.

We spent yesterday evening with Lytton at his villa, meeting there Mr.
and Mrs. Walpole, Frederick Tennyson, and young Norton (Mrs. Norton's
son), who married the Capri girl. She was not present, I am sorry to
say. We walked home to the song of nightingales by starlight and
firefly-light. Florence looks to us more beautiful than ever after
Rome. I love the very stones of it, to say nothing of the cypresses and
river.

Robert says, 'Are you nearly done?' I am done. Give Penini's love and
mine to the dear nonno, and tell him (and yourself, dear) how delighted
we shall be [to] have you both. You are prepared to go to England, I
hope. By the way, the weather there is said to be murderous through
bitter winds, but it must soften as the season advances. May God bless
you! I am yours in truest love.

BA.

We had a very pleasant vettura journey, Robert will have told you.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

Florence: June 6, 1854.

Yes, dearest friend, I had your few lines which Arabel sent to me. I had
them on the very day I had posted my letter to you, and I need not say
how deeply it moved me that you should have thought of giving me that
pleasure of Mr. Ruskin's kind word at the expense of what I knew to be
so much pain to yourself....

We mean to stay at Florence a week or two longer and then go northward.
I love Florence, the place looks exquisitely beautiful in its
garden-ground of vineyards and olive trees, sung round by the
nightingales day and night, nay, sung _into_ by the nightingales, for as
you walk along the streets in the evening the song trickles down into
them till you stop to listen. Such nights we have between starlight and
firefly-light, and the nightingales singing! I would willingly stay
here, if it were not that we are constrained by duty and love to go, and
at some day not distant, I daresay we shall come back 'for good and all'
as people say, seeing that if you take one thing with another, there is
no place in the world like Florence, I am persuaded, for a place to
live in. Cheap, tranquil, cheerful, beautiful, within the limit of
civilisation yet out of the crush of it. I have not seen the Trollopes
yet; but we have spent two delicious evenings at villas on the outside
the gates, one with young Lytton, Sir Edward's son, of whom I have told
you, I think. I like him, we both do, from the bottom of our hearts.
Then our friend Frederick Tennyson, the new poet, we are delighted to
see again. Have you caught sight of his poems? If you have, tell me your
thought. Mrs. Howe's I have read since I wrote last. Some of them are
good--many of the thoughts striking, and all of a certain elevation. Of
poetry, however, strictly speaking, there is not much; and there's a
large proportion of conventional stuff in the volume. She must be a
clever woman. Of the ordinary impotencies and prettinesses of female
poets she does not partake, but she can't take rank with poets in the
good meaning of the word, I think, so as to stand without leaning. Also
there is some bad taste and affectation in the dressing of her
personality. I dare say Mr. Fields will bring you her book. Talking of
American literature, with the publishers on the back of it, we think of
offering the proofs of our new works to any publisher over the water who
will pay us properly for the advantage of bringing out a volume in
America simultaneously with the publication in England. We have heard
that such a proposal will be acceptable, and mean to try it. The words
you sent to me from Mr. Ruskin gave me great pleasure indeed, as how
should they not from such a man? I like him personally, too, besides my
admiration for him as a writer, and I was deeply gratified in every way
to have his approbation. His 'Seven Lamps' I have not read yet. Books
come out slowly to Italy. It's our disadvantage, as you know. Ruskin and
art go together. I must tell you how Rome made me some amends after all.
Page, the American artist, painted a picture of Robert like an Italian,
and then presented it to me like a prince. It is a wonderful picture,
the colouring so absolutely _Venetian_ that artists can't (for the most
part) keep their temper when they look at it, and the breath of the
likeness is literal.[35] Mr. Page has _secrets_ in the art--certainly
nobody else paints like him--and his nature, I must say, is equal to his
genius and worthy of it. Dearest Miss Mitford, the 'Athenaeum' is always
as frigid as Mont Blanc; it can't be expected to grow warmer for looking
over your green valleys and still waters. It wouldn't be Alpine if it
did. They think it a point of duty in that journal to shake hands with
one finger. I dare say when Mr. Chorley sits down to write an article he
puts his feet in cold water as a preliminary. Still, I oughtn't to be
impertinent. He has been very good-natured to _me_, and it isn't his
fault if I'm not Poet Laureate at this writing, and engaged in cursing
the Czar in Pindarics very prettily. 'Atherton,' meanwhile, wants nobody
to praise it, I am sure. How glad I shall be to seize and read it, and
how I thank you for the gift! May God bless and keep you! I may hear
again if you write soon to Florence, but don't pain yourself for the
world, I entreat you. I shall see you before long, I think.

Your ever affectionate
E.B.B.

Robert's love.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

Florence: July 20, [1854].

My dearest Miss Mitford,--I this moment receive your little note. It
makes me very sad and apprehensive about you, and I would give all this
bright sunshine for weeks for one explanatory word which might make me
more easy. Arabel speaks of receiving your books--I suppose
'Atherton'--and of having heard from yourself a very bad account of
your state of health. Are you worse, my beloved friend? I have been
waiting to hear the solution of our own plans (dependent upon letters
from England) in order to write to you; and when I found our journey to
London was definitively rendered impossible till next spring, I deferred
writing yet again, it was so painful to me to say to you that our
meeting could not take place this year. Now, I receive your little note
and write at once to say how sad _that_ makes me. It is the first time
that the expression of your love, my beloved friend, has made me sad,
and I start as from an omen. On the other hand, the character you write
in is so firm and like yourself, that I do hope and trust you are not
sensibly worse. Let me hear by a word, if possible, that the change of
weather has done you some little good. I understand there has scarcely
been any summer in England, and this must necessarily have been adverse
to you. A gleam of fine weather would revive you by God's help. Oh, that
I could look in your face and say, 'God bless you!' as I feel it. May
God bless you, my dear, dear friend.

Our reason for not going to England has not been from caprice, but a
cross in money matters. A ship was to have brought us in something, and
brought us in nothing instead, with a discount; the consequence of which
is that we are transfixed at Florence, and unable even to 'fly to the
mountains' as a refuge from the summer heat. It has been a great
disappointment to us all, and to our respective families, my poor
darling Arabel especially; but we can only be patient, and I take
comfort in the obvious fact that my Penini is quite well and almost as
rosy as ever in spite of the excessive Florence heat. One of the worst
thoughts I have is about _you_. I had longed so to see you this summer,
and had calculated with such certainty upon doing so. I would have gone
to England for that single reason if I could, but I can't; we can't
stir, really. That we should be able to sit quietly still at Florence
and eat our bread and maccaroni is the utmost of our possibilities this
summer.

Mrs. Trollope has gone to the Baths of Lucca, and thus I have not seen
her. She will be very interested about you, of course. How many hang
their hearts upon your sickbed, dearest Miss Mitford! Yes, and their
prayers too.

The other day, by an accident, an old number of the 'Athenaeum' fell into
my hands, and I read for the second time Mr. Chorley's criticism upon
'Atherton.' It is evidently written in a hurried manner, and is quite
inadequate as a notice of the book; but, do you know, I am of opinion
that if you considered it more closely you would lose your impression of
its being depreciatory and cold. He says that the _only fault_ of the
work is its _shortness_; a rare piece of praise to be given to a work
nowadays. You see, your reputation is at the height; neither he nor
another could _help_ you; such books as yours make their own way. The
'Athenaeum' doesn't give full critiques of Dickens, for instance, and it
is arctical in general temperature. I thought I would say this to you.
Certainly I _do know_ that Mr. Chorley highly regards you in every
capacity--as writer and as woman--and in the manner in which he named
you to me in his last letter there was no chill of sentiment nor recoil
of opinion. So do not admit a doubt of _him_; he is a sure and
affectionate friend, and absolutely high-minded and reliable; of an
intact and even chivalrous delicacy. I say it, lest you might have need
of him and be scrupulous (from your late feeling) about making him
useful. It is horrible to doubt of one's friends; oh, I know _that_, and
would save you from it.

We had a letter from Paris two days ago from one of the noblest and most
intellectual men in the country, M. Milsand, a writer in the 'Deux
Mondes.' He complains of a stagnation in the imaginative literature, but
adds that he is consoled for everything by the 'state of politics.' Your
Napoleon is doing you credit, his very enemies must confess.

As for me, I can't write to-day. Your little precious, melancholy note
hangs round the neck of my heart like a stone. Arabel simply says she
is afraid from what you have written to her that you must be very ill;
she does not tell me what you wrote to her--perhaps for fear of paining
me--and now I am pained by the silence beyond measure.

Robert's love and warmest wishes for you. He appreciates your kind word
to him. And I, what am I to say? I love you from a very sad and grateful
heart, looking backwards and forwards--and _upwards_ to pray God's love
down on you!

Your ever affectionate
E.B.B., rather BA.

Precious the books will be to me. I hope not to wait to read them till
they reach me, as there is a bookseller here who will be sure to have
them. Thank you, thank you.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

Florence: September 4, 1854.

Five minutes do not pass, my beloved friend, since reading this dear
letter which has wrung from me tender and sorrowful tears, and answering
it thus. Pray for you? I do not wait that you should bid me. May the
divine love in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ shine upon you day and
night, and make all our human loves strike you as cold and dull in
comparison with that ineffable tenderness! As to wandering prayers, I
cannot believe that it is of consequence whether this poor breath of
ours wanders or does not wander. If we have strength to throw ourselves
upon Him for everything, for prayer, as well as for the ends of prayer,
it is enough, and He will prove it to be enough presently. I have been
when I could not pray at all. And then God's face seemed so close upon
me that there was no need of prayer, any more than if I were near _you_,
as I yearn to be, as I ought to be, there would be need for this letter.
Oh, be sure that He means well by us by what we suffer, and it is when
we suffer that He often makes the meaning clearer. You know how that
brilliant, witty, true poet Heine, who was an atheist (as much as a man
can pretend to be), has made a public profession of a change of opinion
which was pathetic to my eyes and heart the other day as I read it. He
has joined no church, but simply (to use his own words) has 'returned
home to God like the prodigal son after a long tending of the swine.' It
is delightful to go home to God, even after a tending of the sheep. Poor
Heine has lived a sort of living death for years, quite deprived of his
limbs, and suffering tortures to boot, I understand. It is not because
we are brought low that we must die, my dearest friend. I hope--I do not
say 'hope' for _you_ so much as for _me_ and for the many who hang their
hearts on your life--I hope that you may survive all these terrible
sufferings and weaknesses, and I take my comfort from your letter, from
the firmness and beauty of the manuscript; I who know how weak hands
will shudder and reel along the paper. Surely there is strength for more
life in that hand. Now I stoop to kiss it in my thought. Feel my kiss on
the dear hand, dear, dear friend.

A previous letter of yours pained me much because I seemed to have given
you the painful trouble in it of describing your state, your weakness.
Ah, I _knew_ what that state was, and it was _therefore_ that the slip
of paper which came with 'Atherton' seemed to me so ominous! By the way,
I shall see 'Atherton' before long, I dare say. The 'German Library' in
our street is to have a 'box of new books' almost directly, and in it
surely must be 'Atherton,' and you shall hear my thoughts of the book as
soon as I catch sight of it. Then you have sent me the Dramas. Thank
you, thank you; they will be precious. I saw the article in the
'Athenaeum' with joy and triumph, and knew Mr. Chorley by the 'Roman
hand.' In the 'Illustrated News' also, Robert (not I) read an
enthusiastic notice. He fell upon it at the reading-room where I never
go on account of my _she_-dom, women in Florence being supposed not--

(_Part of this letter is missing_)

Think of me who am far, yet near in love and thought. Love me with that
strong heart of yours. May God bless it, bless it!

I am ever your attached
E.B.B., rather BA.

I have had a sad letter from poor Haydon's daughter. She has fifty-six
pounds a year, and can scarcely live on it in England, and inquires if
she could live in any family in Florence. I fear to recommend her to
come so far on such means. Robert's love. _May God bless you and keep
you! Love me._

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

Florence: October 19, 1854.

I will try not to be overjoyed, my dear, dearest Miss Mitford, but,
indeed, it is difficult to refrain from catching at hope with both
hands. If the general health will but rally, there is nothing fatal
about a spine disease. May God bless you, give you the best blessing in
earth and heaven, as the God of the living in both places. We ought not
to be selfish, nor stupid, so as to be afraid of leaving you in His
hands. What is beautiful and joyful to observe is the patience and
self-possession with which you endure even the most painful
manifestation of His will; and that, while you lose none of that
interest in the things of our mortal life which is characteristic of
your sympathetic nature, you are content, just as if you felt none, to
let the world go, according to the decision of God. May you be more and
more confirmed and elevated and at rest--being the Lord's, whether
absent from the body or present in it! For my own part, I have been long
convinced that what we call death is a mere incident in life--perhaps
scarcely a greater one than the occurrence of puberty, or the
revolution which comes with any new emotion or influx of new knowledge.
I am heterodox about sepulchres, and believe that no _part of us_ will
ever lie in a grave. I don't think much of my nail-parings--do you?--not
even of the nail of my thumb when I cut off what Penini calls the
'gift-mark' on it. I believe that the body of flesh is a mere husk which
drops off at death, while the spiritual body (see St. Paul) emerges in
glorious resurrection at once. Swedenborg says, some persons do not
immediately realise that they have passed death, and this seems to me
highly probable. It is curious that Maurice, Mr. Kingsley's friend,
about whom so much lately has been written and quarrelled (and who _has_
made certain great mistakes, I think), takes this precise view of the
resurrection, with an apparent unconsciousness of what Swedenborg has
stated upon the subject, and that, I, too, long before I knew
Swedenborg, or heard the name of Maurice, came to the same conclusions.
I wonder if Mr. Kingsley agrees with us. I dare say he does, upon the
whole--for the ordinary doctrine seems to me as little taught by
Scripture as it can be reconciled with philosophical probabilities. I
believe in an active, _human_ life, beyond death as before it, an
uninterrupted human life. I believe in no waiting in the grave, and in
no vague effluence of spirit in a formless vapour. But you'll be tired
with 'what I believe.'

I have been to the other side of Florence to call on Mrs. Trollope, on
purpose that I might talk to her of you, but she was not at home, though
she has returned from the Baths of Lucca. From what I hear, she appears
to be well, and has recommenced her 'public mornings,' which we shrink
away from. She 'receives' every Saturday morning in the most
heterogeneous way possible. It must be amusing to anybody not
overwhelmed by it, and people say that she snatches up 'characters' for
her 'so many volumes a year' out of the diversities of masks presented
to her on these occasions. Oh, our Florence! In vain do I cry out for
'Atherton.' The most active circulating library 'hasn't got it yet,'
they say. I must still wait. Meanwhile, of course, I am delighted with
all your successes, and your books won't spoil by keeping like certain
other books. So I may wait.

How young children unfold like flowers, and how pleasant it is to watch
them! I congratulate you upon yours--your baby-girl must be a dear
forward little thing. But I wish I could show you my Penini, with his
drooping golden ringlets and seraphic smile, and his talk about
angels--you would like him, I know. Your girl-baby has avenged my name
for me, and now, if you heard my Penini say in the midst of a coaxing
fit--'O, my sweetest little mama, my darling, _dearlest_, little Ba,'
you would admit that 'Ba' must have a music in it, to my ears at least.
The love of two generations is poured out to me in that name--and the
stream seems to run (in one instance) when alas! the fountain is dry. I
do not refer to the dead who live still.

Ah, dearest friend, you feel how I must have felt about the accident in
Wimpole Street.[36] I can scarcely talk to you about it. There will be
permanent lameness, Arabel says, according to the medical opinion,
though the general health was not for a moment affected. But permanent
lameness! That is sad, for a person of active habits. I ventured to
write a little note--which was not returned, I thank God--or read, I
dare say; but of course there was no result. I never even expected it,
as matters have been. I must tell you that our pecuniary affairs are
promising better results for next year, and that we shall not, in all
probability, be tied up from going to England. For the rest--if I
understand you--oh no! My husband has a family likeness to Lucifer in
being proud. Besides, it's not necessary. When literary people are
treated in England as in some other countries, in that case and that
time we may come in for our share in the pensions given by the people,
without holding out our hands. Now think of Carlyle--unpensioned! Why,
if we sate here in rags, we wouldn't press in for an obolus before
Belisarius. Mrs. Sartoris has been here on her way to Rome, spending
most of her time with us--singing passionately and talking eloquently.
She is really charming. May God bless and keep you and love you, beloved
friend! Love your own affectionate

BA.

May it be Robert's love?

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[Florence:] November 11, 1854 [postmark].

My dearest Sarianna,--I shall be writing my good deeds in water to-day
with this mere pretence at inks.[37] We are all well, though it is much
too cold for me--a horrible tramontana which would create a cough under
the ribs of death, and sets me coughing a little in the morning. I am
afraid it's to be a hard winter again this year--or harder than last
year's. We began fires on the last day of October, after the most
splendid stretch of spring, summer, and autumn I ever remember. We have
translated our room into winter--sent off the piano towards the windows,
and packed tables, chairs, and sofas as near to the hearth as possible.

What a time of anxiety this war time is![38] I do thank God that _we_
have no reasons for its being a personal agony, through having anyone
very precious at the post of danger. I have two first cousins there, a
Hedley, and Paget Butler, Sir Thomas's son. I understand that the gloom
in England from the actual bereavements is great; that the frequency of
deep mourning strikes the eye; that even the shops are filled chiefly
with black; and that it has become a sort of _mode_ to wear black or
grey, without family losses, and from the mere force of sympathy.

My poor father is still unable to stir from the house, and he has been
unwell through a bilious attack, the consequence of want of exercise.
Nothing can induce him to go out in a carriage, because he 'never did in
his life drive out for mere amusement,' he says. There's what Mr. Kenyon
calls 'the Barrett obstinacy,' and it makes me uneasy as to the effect
of it in this instance upon the general health of the patient. Poor
darling Arabel seems to me much out of spirits--'out of humour,' _she_
calls it, dear thing--oppressed by the gloom of the house, and looking
back yearningly to the time when she had sisters to talk to. Oh
Sarianna, I wish we were all together to have a good gossip or groaning,
with a laugh at the end!...

Your ever affectionate sister,
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

Florence: November 1854.

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--You make me wait and I make you wait for
letters. It is bad of us both--and remember, _worse of you_, seeing that
you left two long letters of mine unanswered for months. I felt as if I
had fallen down an _oubliette_, and I was about to utter the loud
shrieks befitting the occasion, when you wrote at last. Don't treat me
so another time; I want to know your plans for the winter, since the
winter is upon us. Next summer, if it pleases God, we shall certainly
meet somewhere--say Paris, say London. We shall have money for it, which
we had not this year; and now the disappointment's over, I don't care.
The heat at Florence was very bearable, and our child grew into his
roses lost at Rome, and we have lived a very tranquil and happy six
months on our own sofas and chairs, among our own nightingales and
fireflies. There's an inclination in me to turn round with my Penini
and say, 'I'm an Italian.' Certainly both light and love seem stronger
with me at Florence than elsewhere....

The war! The alliance is the consolation; the necessity is the
justification. For the rest, one shuts one's eyes and ears--the rest is
too horrible. What do you mean by fearing that the war itself may not be
all the evil of the war? I expect, on the contrary, a freer political
atmosphere after this thunder. Louis Napoleon is behaving very tolerably
well, won't you admit, after all? And I don't look to a treason at the
end as certain of his enemies do, who are reduced to a 'wait, wait, and
you'll see.' There's a friend of mine here, a traditional anti-Gallican,
and very lively in his politics until the last few months. He can't
speak now or lift up his eyelids, and I am too magnanimous in opposition
to talk of anything else in his presence except Verdi's last opera,
which magnanimity he appreciates, though he has no ear. About a month
ago he came suddenly to life again. 'Have you heard the news? Napoleon
is suspected of making a secret treaty with Russia.' The next morning he
was as dead as ever--poor man! It's a desperate case for him.

Are you not happy--_you_--in this fast union between England and France?
Some of our English friends, coming to Italy through France, say that
the general feeling towards England, and the affectionate greetings and
sympathies lavished upon them as Englishmen by the French everywhere,
are quite strange and touching. 'In two or three years,' said a
Frenchman on a railroad, 'French and English, we shall make only one
nation.' Are you very curious about the subject of gossip just now
between Lord Palmerston and Louis Napoleon? We hear from somebody in
Paris, whose _metier_ it is to know everything, that it refers to the
readjustment of affairs in Italy. May God grant it! The Italians have
been hanging their whole hope's weight upon Louis Napoleon ever since he
came to power, and if he does now what he can for them I shall be proud
of my _protege_--oh, and so glad! Robert and I clapped our hands
yesterday when we heard this; we couldn't refrain, though our informant
was reactionary and in a deep state of conservative melancholy. 'Awful
things were to be expected about Italy,' quotha!

Now do be good, and write and tell me what your plans are for the
winter. We shall remain here till May, and then, if God pleases, go
north--to Paris and London. Robert and I are at work on our books. I
have taken to ass's milk to counteract the tramontana, and he is in the
twenty-first and I in the twenty-second volume of Alexandre Dumas's
'Memoirs.' The book is _un peu hasarde_ occasionally, as might be
expected, but extremely interesting, and I really must recommend it to
your attention for the winter if you don't know it already.

We have seen a good deal of Mrs. Sartoris lately on her way to Rome
(Adelaide Kemble)--eloquent in talk and song, a most brilliant woman,
and noble. She must be saddened since then, poor thing, by her father's
death. Tell me if it is true that Harriet Martineau has seceded again
from her atheism? We heard so the other day. Dearest Mrs. Martin, do
write to me; and do, both of you, remember me, and think of both of us
kindly. With Robert's true regards,

I am your as ever affectionate
BA.

Tell me dear Mr. Martin's mind upon politics--in the Austrian and
Prussian question, for instance. We have no fears, in spite of Dr.
Cumming and the prophets generally, of ultimate results.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Mitford_

Florence: December 11, 1854.

I should have written long ago, my dearest Miss Mitford, to try to say
half the pleasure and gratitude your letter made for me, but I have
been worried and anxious about the illnesses, not exactly in my family
but nearly as touching to me, and hanging upon posts from England in a
painful way inevitable to these great distances....

I understand that literature is going on flaggingly in England just now,
on account of nobody caring to read anything but telegraphic messages.
So Thackeray told somebody, only he might refer chiefly to the fortunes
of the 'Newcomes,' who are not strong enough to resist the Czar. The
book is said to be defective in story. Certainly the subject of the war
is very absorbing; we are all here in a state of tremblement about it.
Dr. Harding has a son at Sebastopol, who has had already three horses
killed under him. What hideous carnage! The allies are plainly
numerically too weak, and the two governments are much blamed for not
reinforcing long ago. I am discontented about Austria. I don't like
handshaking with Austria; I would rather be picking her pocket of her
Italian provinces; and, while upon such civil terms, how _can_ we? Yet
somebody, who professes to know everything, told somebody at Paris, who
professes to tell everything, that Louis Napoleon and Lord Palmerston
talked much the other day about what is to be done for Italy; and here
in Italy we have long been all opening our mouths like so many young
thrushes in a nest, expecting some 'worme small' from your Emperor. Now,
if there's an Austrian alliance instead!...

Do you hear from Mr. Kingsley? and, if so, how is his wife? I am reading
now Mrs. Stowe's 'Sunny Memories,' and like the naturalness and
simplicity of the book much, in spite of the provincialism of the tone
of mind and education, and the really wretched writing. It's quite
wonderful that a woman who has written a book to make the world ring
should write so abominably....

Do you hear often from Mr. Chorley? Mr. Kenyon complains of never seeing
him. He seems to have withdrawn a good deal, perhaps into closer
occupations, who knows? Aubrey de Vere told a friend of ours in Paris
the other day that Mr. Patmore was engaged on a poem which 'was to be
the love poem of the age,' parts of which he, Aubrey de Vere, had seen.
Last week I was vexed by the sight of Mrs. Trollope's card, brought in
because we were at dinner. I should have liked to have seen her for the
sake of the opportunity of talking of _you_.

Do you know the engravings in the 'Story without an End'? The picture of
the 'child' is just my Penini. Some one was observing it the other day,
and I thought I would tell you, that you might image him to yourself.
Think of his sobbing and screaming lately because of the Evangelist John
being sent to Patmos. 'Just like poor Robinson Crusoe' said he. I
scarcely knew whether to laugh or cry, I was so astonished at this
crisis of emotion.

Robert's love will be put in. May God bless you and keep you, and love
you better than we all.

Your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

Casa Guidi: February 13, [1855].

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--How am I to thank you for this most beautiful
shawl, looking fresh from Galatea's flocks, and woven by something finer
than her fingers? You are too good and kind, and I shall wrap myself in
this piece of affectionateness on your part with very pleasant feelings.
Thank you, thank you. I only wish I could have seen you (though more or
less dimly, it would have been a satisfaction) in the face of your
friend who was so kind as to bring the parcel to me. But I have been
very unwell, and was actually in bed when he called; unwell with the
worst attack on the chest I ever suffered from in Italy. Oh, I should
have written to you long since if it had not been for this. For a month
past or more I have been ill. Now, indeed, I consider myself
convalescent; the exhausting cough and night fever are gone, I may say,
the pulse quiet, and, though considerably weakened and pulled down, that
will be gradually remedied as long as this genial mildness of the
weather lasts. You were quite right in supposing us struck here by the
cold of which you complained even at Pau. Not only here but at Pisa
there has been snow and frost, together with a bitter wind which my
precaution of keeping steadily to two rooms opening one into another
could not defend me from. My poor Robert has been horribly vexed about
me, of course, and indeed suffered physically at one time through
sleepless nights, diversified by such pastimes as keeping fires alight
and warming coffee, &c. &c. Except for love's sake it wouldn't be worth
while to live on at the expense of doing so much harm, but you needn't
exhort--I don't give it up. I mean to live on and be well.

In the meantime, in generous exchange for your miraculous shawl, I send
you back sixpence worth of rhymes. They were written for Arabel's Ragged
School bazaar last spring (she wanted our names), and would not be worth
your accepting but for the fact of their not being purchaseable
anywhere.[39] A few copies were sent out to us lately. Half I draw back
my hand as I give you this little pamphlet, because I seem to hear dear
Mr. Martin's sardonic laughter at my phrase about the Czar. 'If she
wink, &c.' Well, I don't generally sympathise with the boasting mania of
my countrymen, but it's so much in the blood that, even with _me_, it
exceeds now and then, you observe. Ask him to be as gentle with me as
possible.

Oh, the East, the East! My husband has been almost frantic on the
subject. We may all cover our heads and be humble.[40] Verily we have
sinned deeply. As to ministers, that there is blame I do not doubt. The
Aberdeen element has done its worst, but our misfortune is that nobody
is responsible; and that if you tear up Mr. So-and-so and Lord So-and-so
limb from limb, as a mild politician recommended the other day, you
probably would do a gross injustice against very well-meaning persons.
It's the system, the system which is all one gangrene; the most corrupt
system in Europe, is it not? Here is my comfort. Apart from the dreadful
amount of individual suffering which cries out against us to heaven and
earth, this adversity may teach us much, this shock which has struck to
the heart of England may awaken us much, and this humiliation will
altogether be good for us. We have stood too long on a pedestal talking
of our moral superiority, our political superiority, and all our other
superiorities, which I have long been sick of hearing recounted. Here's
an inferiority proved. Let us understand it and remedy it, and not talk,
talk, any more.

[_Part of this letter has been cut out_]

We heard yesterday from the editor of the 'Examiner,' Mr. Forster, who
expects some terrible consequence of present circumstances in England,
as far as I can understand. The alliance with France is full of
consolation. There seems to be a real heart-union between the peoples.
What a grand thing the Napoleon loan is! It has struck the English with
admiration.

I heard, too, among other English news, that Walter Savage Landor, who
has just kept his eightieth birthday, and is as young and impetuous as
ever, has caught the whooping cough by way of an illustrative accident.
Kinglake ('E[=o]then') came home from the Crimea (where he went out and
fought as an amateur) with fever, which has left one lung diseased. He
is better, however....

Dearest Mrs. Martin, dearest friends, be both of you well and strong.
Shall we not meet in Paris this early summer?

May God bless you! Your ever affectionate

BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

Florence: February 24, 1855.

The devil (say charitable souls) is not as bad as he is painted, and
even I, dearest Mona Nina, am better than I seem. In the first place,
let me make haste to say that I _never received_ the letter you sent me
to Rome with the information of your family affliction, and that, if I
had, it could never have remained an unnoticed letter. I am not so
untender, so unsympathising, not so brutal--let us speak out. I lost
several letters in Rome, besides a good deal of illusion. I did not like
Rome, I think I confessed to you. In the second place, when your last
letter reached me--I mean the letter in which you told me to write to
you directly--I _would_ have written directly, but was so very unwell
that you would not have wished me even to try if, absent in the flesh,
you had been present in spirit. I have had a severe attack on the
chest--the worst I ever had in Italy--the consequence of exceptionally
severe weather--bitter wind and frost together--which quite broke me up
with cough and fever at night. Now I am well again, only of course much
weakened, and grown thin. I mean to get fat again upon cod's liver oil,
in order to appear in England with some degree of decency. You know I'm
a lineal descendant of the White Cat, and have seven lives accordingly.
Also I have a trick of falling from six-storey windows upon my feet, in
the manner of the traditions of my race. Not only I die hard, but I can
hardly die. 'Half of it would kill _me_,' said an admiring friend the
other day. 'What strength you must have!' A questionable advantage,
except that I have also--a Robert, and a Penini!

Dearest friend, I don't know how to tell you of our fullness of sympathy
in your late trials.[41] From a word which reached us from England the
other day, there will be, I do trust, some effectual arrangement to
relieve your friends from their anxieties about you. Then, there should
be an increase of the Government pension by another hundred, that is
certain; only the 'should be' lies so far out of sight in the ideal,
that nobody in his senses should calculate on its occurrence. As to Law,
it's different from Right--particularly in England perhaps--and appeals
to Law are disastrous when they cannot be counted on as victorious,
always and certainly. Therefore you may be wise in abstaining; you have
considered sufficiently, of course. I only hope you are not trammelled
in any degree by motives of delicacy which would be preposterous under
the actual circumstances. You meantime are as nobly laborious as ever.
We have caught hold of fragments in the newspapers from your
'Commonplace Book,' which made us wish for more; and Mr. Kenyon told me
of a kind mention of Robert which was very pleasant to me.

How will it be? Shall you be likely to come to Italy before we set out
to the north--that is, before the middle of May--or shall we cross on
the road, like our letters, or shall we catch you in London, or in Paris
at least? Oh, you won't miss the Exhibition in Paris. That seems
certain.

I know Florence Nightingale slightly. She came to see me when we were in
London last; and I remember her face and her graceful manner, and the
flowers she sent me after afterwards. I honor her from my heart. She is
an earnest, noble woman, and has fulfilled her woman's duty where many
men have failed.

At the same time, I confess myself to be at a loss to see any new
position for the sex, or the most imperfect solution of the 'woman's
question,' in this step of hers. If a movement at all, it is retrograde,
a revival of old virtues! Since the siege of Troy and earlier, we have
had princesses binding wounds with their hands; it's strictly the
woman's part, and men understand it so, as you will perceive by the
general adhesion and approbation on this late occasion of the masculine
dignities. Every man is on his knees before ladies carrying lint,
calling them 'angelic she's,' whereas, if they stir an inch as thinkers
or artists from the beaten line (involving more good to general
humanity; than is involved in lint), the very same men would curse the
impudence of the very same women and stop there. I can't see on what
ground you think you see here the least gain to the 'woman's question,'
so called. It's rather _the contrary_, to my mind, and, any way, the
women of England must give the precedence to the _soeurs de charite_,
who have magnificently won it in all matters of this kind. For my own
part (and apart from the exceptional miseries of the war), I acknowledge
to you that I do not consider the best use to which we can put a gifted
and accomplished woman is to _make her a hospital nurse_. If it is, why
then woe to us all who are artists! The woman's question is at an end.
The men's 'noes' carry it. For the future I hope you will know your
place and keep clear of Raffaelle and criticism; and I shall expect to
hear of you as an organiser of the gruel department in the hospital at
Greenwich, that is, if you have the luck to _percer_ and distinguish
yourself.

Oh, the Crimea! How dismal, how full of despair and horror! The results
will, however, be good if we are induced to come down from the English
pedestal in Europe of incessant self-glorification, and learn that our
close, stifling, corrupt system gives no air nor scope for healthy and
effective organisation anywhere. We are oligarchic in all things, from
our parliament to our army. Individual interests are admitted as
obstacles to the general prosperity. This plague runs through all things
with us. It accounts for the fact that, according to the last marriage
statistics, thirty per cent, of the male population signed with the
_mark_ only. It accounts for the fact that London is at once the largest
and ugliest city in Europe. For the rest, if we cannot fight righteous
and necessary battles, we must leave our place as a nation, and be
satisfied with making pins. Write to me, but don't pay your letters,
dear dear friend, and I will tell you why. Through some slip somewhere
we have had to pay your two last letters just the same. So don't try it
any more. Do you think we grudge postage from you? Tell me if it is true
that Harriet Martineau is very ill. What do you hear of her?

May God bless you! With Robert's true love,

Your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


The following letter is the first of a few addressed to Mr. Ruskin,
which have been made available through the kindness of Mrs. Arthur
Severn. The acquaintanceship with Mr. Ruskin dated from the visit of the
Brownings to England in 1852 (see vol. ii. p. 87, above); but the
occasion of the present correspondence was the recent death of Miss
Mitford, which took place on January 10, 1855. Mr. Ruskin had shown much
kindness to her during her later years, and after her death had written
to Mrs. Browning to tell her of the closing scenes of her friend's life.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Ruskin_

Florence: March 17, 1855.

I have your letter, dear Mr. Ruskin. The proof is the pleasure it has
given me--yes, and given my husband, which is better. 'When has a
letter given me so much pleasure?' he exclaimed, after reading it; 'will
you write?' I thank you much--much for thinking of it, and I shall be
thankful of anything you can tell me of dearest Miss Mitford. I had a
letter from her just before she went, written in so firm a hand, and so
vital a spirit, that I could feel little apprehension of never seeing
her in the body again. God's will be done. It is better so, I am sure.
She seemed to me to see her way clearly, and to have as few troubling
doubts in respect to the future life as she had to the imminent end of
the present.

Often we have talked and thought of you since the last time we saw you,
and, before your letter came, we had ventured to put on the list of
expected pleasures connected with our visit to England, fixed for next
summer, the pleasure of seeing more of Mr. Ruskin. For the rest, there
will be some bitter things too. I do not miss them generally in England,
and among them this time will be an empty place where I used always to
find a tender and too indulgent friend.

You need not be afraid of my losing a letter of yours. The peril would
be mine in that case. But among the advantages of our Florence--the art,
the olives, the sunshine, the cypresses, and don't let me forget the
Arno and mountains at sunset time--is that of an all but infallible post
office. One loses letters at Rome. Here, I think, we have lost _one_ in
the course of eight years, and for that loss I hold my correspondent to
blame.

How good you are to me! How kind! The soul of a cynic, at its third
stage of purification, might feel the value of 'Gold' laid on the
binding of a book by the hand of John Ruskin. Much more I, who am apt to
get too near that ugly 'sty of Epicurus' sometimes! Indeed you have
gratified me deeply. There was 'once on a time,' as is said in the fairy
tales, a word dropped by you in one of your books, which I picked up and
wore for a crown. Your words of goodwill are of great price to me
always, and one of my dear friend Miss Mitford's latest kindnesses to me
was copying out and sending to me a sentence from a letter of yours
which expressed a favorable feeling towards my writings. She knew
well--she who knew me--the value it would have for me, and the courage
it would give me for any future work.

With my husband's cordial regards,

I remain most truly yours,
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

Our American friends, who sent to Dresden in vain for your letter, are
here now, but will be in England soon on their way to America, with the
hope of trying fate again in another visit to you. Thank you! Also thank
you for your inquiry about my health. I have had a rather bad attack on
my chest (never very strong) through the weather having been colder than
usual here, but now I am very well again--for _me_.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

Florence: April 20, 1855.

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--Having nine lives, as I say, I am alive again,
and prosperous--thanking you for wishing to know. People look at me and
laugh, because it's a clear case of bulbous root with me--let me pass
(being humble) for the onion. I was looking miserable in February, and
really could scarcely tumble across the room, and now I am up on my
perch again--nay, even out of my cage door. The weather is divine. One
feels in one's self why the trees are green. I go out, walk out, have
recovered flesh and fire--my very hair curls differently. '_Is I, I?_' I
say with the metaphysicians. There's something vital about this Florence
air, for, though much given to resurrection, I never made such a leap in
my life before after illness. Robert and I need to run as well as leap.
We have quantities of work to do, and small time to do it in. He is
four hours a day engaged in dictating to a friend of ours who
transcribes for him, and I am not even ready for transcription--have not
transcribed a line of my six or seven thousand. We go to England, or at
least to Paris, next month, but it can't be early. Oh, may we meet you!
Our little Penini is radiant, and altogether we are all in good spirits.
Which is a shame, you will say, considering the state of affairs at
Sebastopol. Forgive me. I never, at worst, thought that the great
tragedy of the world was going on _there_. It was tragic, but there are
more chronic cruelties and deeper despairs--ay, and more exasperating
wrongs. For the rest, we have the most atrocious system in Europe, and
we mean to work it out. Oh, you will see. Your committees nibble on, and
this and that poisonous berry is pulled off leisurely, while the bush to
the root of it remains, and the children eat on unhindered on the other
side. I had hoped that there was real feeling among politicians. But no;
we are put off with a fast day. There, an end! I begin to think that
nothing will do for England but a good revolution, and a 'besom of
destruction' used dauntlessly. We are getting up our vainglories again,
smoothing our peacock's plumes. We shall be as exemplary as ever by next
winter, you will see.

Meanwhile, dearest Mrs. Martin, that _you_ should ask me about
'Armageddon' is most assuredly a sign of the times. You know I pass for
being particularly mad myself, and everybody, almost universally, is
rather mad, as may be testified by the various letters I have to read
about 'visible spirit-hands,' pianos playing themselves, and
flesh-and-blood human beings floating about rooms in company with tables
and lamps. Dante has pulled down his own picture from the wall of a
friend of ours in Florence five times, signifying his pleasure that it
should be destroyed at once as unauthentic (our friend burnt it
directly, which will encourage me to pull down mine by [_word lost_]).
Savonarola also has said one or two things, and there are gossiping
guardian angels, of whom I need not speak. Let me say, though, that
nothing has surprised me quite so much as _your_ inquiring about
Armageddon, because I am used to think of you as the least in the world
of a theorist, and am half afraid of you sometimes, and range the chairs
before my speculative dark corners, that you may not think or see 'how
very wild that Ba is getting!' Well, now it shall be my turn to be
sensible and unbelieving. There's a forced similitude certainly, in the
etymology, between the two words; but if it were full and perfect I
should be no nearer thinking that the battle of Armageddon could ever
signify anything but a great spiritual strife. The terms, taken from a
symbolical book, are plainly to my mind symbolical, and Dr. Cumming and
a thousand mightier doctors could not talk it out of me, I think. I
don't, for the rest, like Dr. Cumming; his books seem to me very narrow.
Isn't the tendency with us all to magnify the great events of our own
time, just as we diminish the small events? For me, I am heretical in
certain things. I expect _no_ renewal of the Jewish kingdom, for
instance. And I doubt much whether Christ's 'second coming' will be
personal. The end of the world is probably the end of a dispensation.
What I expect is, a great development of Christianity in opposition to
the churches, and of humanity generally in opposition to the nations,
and I look out for this in much quiet hope. Also, and in the meanwhile,
the war seems to be just and necessary. There is nothing in it to
regret, except the way of conducting it....

Write to me soon again, and tell me as much of both of you as you can
put into a letter.

May God bless you always!

With Robert's warm regards, both of you think of me as

Your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Braun_

Florence: May 13, [1855].

My dearest Madame Braun,--You have classed me and ticketed me before
now, I think, as among the ungrateful of the world; yet I am grateful,
grateful, grateful! When your book[42] came (how very kind you were to
send it to me!) and when I had said so some five times running, in came
somebody who was _fanatico per Roma_, and reverential in proportion for
Dr. Braun, who with some sudden appeal to my sensibility--the softer
just then that I was only just recovering strength after a sharp winter
attack--swept the volume off the table and carried it off out of the
house to study the contents at leisure. I expected it back the next
week, but it lingered. And I really hadn't the audacity to write to you
and say, 'Thank you, but I have looked as yet simply at the title-page.'
Well, at last it comes home, and I turn the leaves, examine, read,
approve, like Ludovisi and the Belvedere, with a double pleasure of
association and become _qualified_ properly to thank you and Dr. Braun
from Robert and myself for this gift to us and valuable contribution to
archaeological literature. I am only sorry I did not get to Rome after
the book; it would have helped my pleasure so, holding up the lanthorn
in dark places. So much suggestiveness in combination with so much
specific information makes a book (or a man) worth knowing.

Of late, other hindrances have come to writing this, in the shape of
various labours of Hercules, which fall sometimes to Omphale as well. We
go to England in a week or two or three, and we take between us some
sixteen thousand lines, eight on one side, eight on the other, which
ought to be ready for publication. I have not finished my seventh
thousand yet; Robert is at his mark. Then, I have to see that we have
shoes and stockings to go in, and that Penini's little trousers are
creditably frilled and tucked. Then, about twenty letters lie by me
waiting to be answered in time, so as to save me from a mobbing in
England. Then there are visits to be paid all round in Florence, to make
amends for the sins of the winter; visiting, like almsgiving, being put
generally in the place of virtue, when the latter is found too
inconvenient. Altogether, my head swims and my heart ticks before the
day's done, with positive weariness. For there are Penini's lessons, you
are to understand, besides the rest. And 'between the intersections,'
cod liver oil to be taken judiciously, in order to appear before my
English friends with due decency of corporeal coverture.

Well, now, do tell me, _shall_ you go to England, _you_? You will see my
reasons for being very interested. Oh, I hope you won't be snatched away
to Naples, or nailed down at Rome. Railroads open from Marseilles; the
Exhibition open at Paris! Surely, surely Dr. Braun will go to Paris to
see the Exhibition. His conscience won't let him off. Tell him too,
_from me_, that in London he may _see a spirit_ if he will go for it. I
have a letter from a friend who swears to me he has shaken hands with
three or four--'softer, more thrilling than any woman's hand'--'tenderly
touching'--think of that! The American 'medium' Hume is turning the
world upside down in London with this spiritual influx.

Let me remember to tell you. Your paper _was in the_ '_Athenaeum_.'
Therefore, if you were not paid for it, it was the more abominable.
Robert saw it with his own eyes, printed. When I heard from you that you
had heard nothing, I mentioned the circumstance to Mrs. Jameson in a
letter I was writing to her, and I do hope she has not neglected since
to give you some information at least. You are aware probably of the
excellent effect with which that kind Mrs. Procter has managed a private
subscription in behalf of dear Mrs. Jameson, in consequence of which she
will be placed in circumstances of ease for the rest of her life. Fanny
Kemble nobly gave a hundred pounds towards this good purpose. Mrs.
Jameson spoke in her last letter of coming to Italy this summer, and I
dare say we shall have the ill luck to lose her, miss her, cross her _en
route_, perhaps.

We hear from dear Mr. Kenyon and from Miss Bayley; each very well and
full of animation. If it were not for them, and my dear sisters, and one
or two other hands I shall care to clasp (beside the spirits!) I would
give much not to go north. Oh, we Italians grow out of the English bark;
it won't hold us after a time. Such a happy year I have had this last! I
do love Florence so! When Penini says, 'Sono Italiano, voglio essere
Italiano,' I agree with him perfectly.

So we shall come back of course, if we live; indeed, we leave this house
ready to come back to, meaning, if we can, to let our rooms simply.

Little Penini looks like a rose, and has, besides, the understanding and
sweetness of a creature 'a little lower than the angels.' I don't care
any less for him than I did, upon the whole.

I hear the Sartoris's think of Paris for next winter, and mean to give
up Rome. She has been a good deal secluded, until quite lately, they
say, on account of her father's death and brother's worse than death,
which may account in part for any backwardness you may have observed. As
to her 'not liking Dr. Braun,' do _you_ believe in anybody's not liking
Dr. Braun? _I_ don't quite. It's more difficult for me to 'receive' than
the notion of the spiritual hand--'tenderly touching.'

Do you know young Leighton[43] of Rome? If so, you will be glad of this
wonderful success of his picture,[44] bought by the Queen, and applauded
by the Academicians, and he not twenty-five.

The lady who brought your book did not leave her name here, so of
course she did not _mean_ to be called on.

Our kindest regards for dear Dr. Braun, and repeated truest thanks to
both of you. Among his discoveries and inventions, he will invent some
day an Aladdin's lamp, and then you will be suddenly potentates, and
vanish in a clap of thunder.

Till then, think of me sometimes, dearest Madame Braun, as I do of
_you_, and of all your great kindness to me at Rome.

Ever your affectionate
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Ruskin_

Florence: June 2, 1855.

My dear Mr. Ruskin,--I believe I shall rather prove in this letter how
my head turns round when I write it, than explain why I didn't write it
before--and so you will go on to think me the most insusceptible and
least grateful of human beings--no small distinction in our bad obtuse
world. Yet the truth is--oh, the truth is, that I am deeply grateful to
you and have felt to the quick of my heart the meaning and kindness of
your words, the worth of your sympathy and praise. One thing especially
which you said, made me thankful that I had been allowed to live to hear
it--since even to fancy that anything I had written could be the means
of the least good to _you_, is worth all the trumpet blowing of a vulgar
fame. Oh, of course, I do not exaggerate, though your generosity does. I
understand the case as it is. We burn straw and it warms us. My verses
catch fire from you as you read them, and so you see them in that light
of your own. But it is something to be used to such an end by such a
man, and I thank you, thank you, and so does my husband, for the deep
pleasure you have given us in the words you have written.

And why not say so sooner? Just because I wanted to say so fully, and
because I have been crushed into a corner past all elbow-room for doing
anything largely and comfortably, by work and fuss and uncertainty of
various kinds. Now it isn't any better scarcely, though it is quite
fixed now that we are going from Florence to England--no more of the
shadow dancing which is so pretty at the opera and so fatiguing in real
life. We are coming, and have finished most of our preparations;
conducted on a balance of--must we go? _may_ we stay? which is so very
inconvenient. If you knew what it is to give up this still dream-life of
our Florence, where if one is over-busy ever, the old tapestries on the
walls and the pre-Giotto pictures (picked up by my husband for so many
pauls) surround us ready to quiet us again--if you knew what it is to
give it all up and be put into the mill of a dingy London lodging and
ground very small indeed, you wouldn't be angry with us for being sorry
to go north--you wouldn't think it unnatural. As for me, I have all
sorts of pain in England--everything is against me, except a few things;
and yet, while my husband and I groan at one another, strophe and
antistrophe (pardon that rag of Greek!) we admit our compensations--that
it will be an excellent thing, for instance, to see Mr. Ruskin! Are we
likely to undervalue that?

Let me consider how to answer your questions. My poetry--which you are
so good to, and which you once thought 'sickly,' you say, and why not?
(I have often written sickly poetry, I do not doubt--I have been sickly
myself!)--has been called by much harder names, 'affected' for instance,
a charge I have never deserved, for I do think, if I may say it of
myself, that the desire of speaking or _spluttering_ the real truth out
broadly, may be a cause of a good deal of what is called in me careless
and awkward expression. My friends took some trouble with me at one
time; but though I am not self-willed naturally, as you will find when
you know me, I hope, I never could adopt the counsel urged upon me to
keep in sight always the stupidest person of my acquaintance in order to
clear and judicious forms of composition. Will you set me down as
arrogant, if I say that the longer I live in this writing and reading
world, the more convinced I am that the mass of readers _never_ receive
a poet (you, who are a poet yourself, must surely observe that) without
intermediation? The few understand, appreciate, and distribute to the
multitude below. Therefore to say a thing faintly, because saying it
strongly sounds odd or obscure or unattractive for some reason, to
'careless readers,' does appear to me bad policy as well as bad art. Is
not art, like virtue, to be practised for its own sake first? If we
sacrifice our ideal to notions of immediate utility, would it not be
better for us to write tracts at once?

Of course any remark of yours is to be received and considered with all
reverence. Only, be sure you please to say, 'Do it differently to
satisfy _me_, John Ruskin,' and not to satisfy Mr., Mrs., and the Miss
and Master Smith of the great majority. The great majority is the
majority of the little, you know, who will come over to you if you don't
think of them--and if they don't, you will bear it.

Am I pert, do you think? No, _don't_ think it. And the truth is, though
you may not see that, that your praise made me feel very humble. Nay, I
was quite _abashed_ at the idea of the 'illumination' of my poem; and
still I keep winking my eyes at the prospect of so much glory. If you
were a woman, I might say, when one feels ugly one pulls down the
blinds; but as a man you are superior to the understanding of such a
figure, and so I must simply tell you that you honor me over much
indeed. My husband is very much pleased, and particularly pleased that
you selected 'Catarina,' which is his favourite among my poems for some
personal fanciful reasons besides the rest.

But to go back. I said that any remark of yours was to be received by me
in all reverence; and truth is a part of reverence, so I shall end by
telling you the truth, that I think you quite wrong in your objection to
'nympholept.' Nympholepsy is no more a Greek word than epilepsy, and
nobody would or could object to epilepsy or apoplexy as a Greek word.
It's a word for a specific disease or mania among the ancients, that
mystical passion for an invisible nymph common to a certain class of
visionaries. Indeed, I am not the first in referring to it in English
literature. De Quincey has done so in prose, for instance, and Lord
Byron talks of 'The nympholepsy of a fond despair,' though _he_ never
was accused of being overridden by his Greek. Tell me now if I am not
justified, I also? We are all nympholepts in running after our
ideals--and none more than yourself, indeed!

Our American friend Mr. Jarves wrote to us full of gratitude and
gratification on account of your kindness to him, for which we also
should thank you. Whether he felt most overjoyed by the clasp of your
hand or that of a disembodied spirit, which he swears was as real (under
the mediumship of Hume, his compatriot), it was somewhat difficult to
distinguish. But all else in England seemed dull and worthless in
comparison with those two 'manifestations,' the spirit's and yours!

How very very kind of your mother to think of my child! and how happy I
am near the end of my paper, not to be tempted on into 'descriptions'
that 'hold the place of sense.' He is six years old, he reads English
and Italian, and writes without lines, and shall I send you a poem of
his for 'illumination'? His poems are far before mine, the very prattle
of the angels, when they stammer at first and are not sure of the
pronunciation of _e_'s and _i_'s in the spiritual heavens (see
Swedenborg). Really he is a sweet good child, and I am not bearable in
my conceit of him, as you see! My thankful regards to your mother, whom
I shall hope to meet with you, and do yourself accept as much from us
both.

Most truly yours,
ELIZABETH B. BROWNING.

We leave Florence next week, and spend at least a week in Paris, 138
Avenue des Champs-Elysees.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

Florence: June 12, 1855 [postmark].

How kind and tender of you, my dearest Sarianna, to care so much to hear
that I am better! I was afraid that Robert had written in the Crimean
style about me, for he was depressed and uneasy, poor darling, and
looked at things from the blackest point of view. Nevertheless, I have
escaped some bad symptoms. No spitting of blood, for instance, no loss
of voice, and scarcely a threatening of pain in the side. Also I have
not grown thinner than is natural under the circumstances. At Genoa
(after our cold journey[45]) I _wasted_ in a few days, and thought much
worse of myself than there was reason to do this time.

I can assure you I am now much restored. The cough is decidedly got
under, and teases me, for the most part, only in the early morning; the
fever is gone, and the nights are quiet. I am able to take animal food
again, and shall soon recover my ordinary strength. Certainly it has
been a bad attack, and I never suffered anything like it in Italy
before. The illness at Genoa was the mere _tail_ of what began in
England, and was increased by the Alpine exposure. Our weather has been
very severe--wind and frost together--something peculiarly irritating in
the air. I am loth to blame my poor Florence, who never treated me so
before (and how many winters we have spent here!)--and our friends write
from Pisa that the weather was as trying there, while from Rome the
account is simply 'detestable weather.' At Naples it is sometimes
furiously cold; there's no perfect climate anywhere, that's certain. You
have only to choose the least evil. Here for the last week it has been
so mild that, if I had been in my usual state of health, I might have
gone out, they say; and, of course, I have felt the influence
beneficially. One encourages oneself in Italy when it is cold, with the
assurance that it can't last. Our misfortune this time has been that it
has lasted unusually long. How the Italians manage without fires I
cannot make out. So chilly as they are, too, it's a riddle.

You would wonder almost how I could feel the cold in these two rooms
opening into each other, and from which I have not stirred since the
cold weather began. Robert has kept up the fire in our bedroom
throughout the night. Oh, he has been spoiling me so. If it had not been
that I feared much to hurt him in having him so disturbed and worried,
it would have been a very subtle luxury to me, this being ill and
feeling myself dear. Do not set me down as too selfish. May God bless
him!...

Robert has been frantic about the Crimea, and 'being disgraced in the
face of Europe,' &c. &c. When he is mild he wishes the ministry to be
torn to pieces in the streets, limb from limb. I do not doubt that the
Aberdeen side of the Cabinet has been greatly to blame, but the system
is the root of the whole evil; if they don't tear up the system they may
tear up the Aberdeens 'world without end,' and not better the matter; if
they do tear up the system, then shall we all have reason to rejoice at
these disasters, apart from our sympathy with individual sufferings.
More good will have been done by this one great shock to the heart of
England than by fifty years' more patching, and pottering, and knocking
impotent heads together. What makes me most angry is the ministerial
apology. 'It's always so with us for three campaigns,'!!! 'it's our
way,' 'it's want of experience,' &c. &c. That's precisely the thing
complained of. As to want of experience, if the French have had Algerine
experiences, we have had our Indian wars, Chinese wars, Caffre wars, and
military and naval expenses _exceeding_ those of France from year to
year. If our people had never had to pay for an army, they might sit
down quietly under the taunt of wanting experience. But we have
soldiers, and soldiers should have military education as well as red
coats, and be led by properly qualified officers, instead of Lord
Nincompoop's youngest sons. As it is in the army, so it is in the State.
Places given away, here and there, to incompetent heads; nobody being
responsible, no unity of idea and purpose anywhere--the individual
interest always in the way of the general good. There is a noble heart
in our people, strong enough if once roused, to work out into light and
progression, and correct all these evils. Robert is a good deal struck
by the generous tone of the observations of the French press, as
contradistinguished from the insolences of the Americans, who really are
past enduring just now. Certain of our English friends here in Florence
have ceased to associate with them on that ground. I think there's a
good deal of jealousy about the French alliance. That may account for
something....

Dearest, kindest Sarianna, remember not to think any more about me,
except that I love you, that I am your attached

BA.


FOOTNOTES:

[15] _Life and Letters of Robert Browning_, by Mrs. Sutherland Orr, p.
216.

[16] The late Earl Lytton.

[17] Auguste Brizieux

[18] _Uncle Tom's Cabin_, published in 1852.

[19] Mrs. Jameson's _Legends of the Madonna_.

[20] General Franklin Pierce.

[21] 'Tamerton Church Tower, and other Poems.'

[22] In a letter to Miss Mitford, written four days later than this,
Mrs. Browning alludes again to the performance of 'Colombe's Birthday:'
'Yes--Robert's play succeeded, but there could be no "run" for a play of
that kind; it was a _succes d'estime_ and something more, which is
surprising, perhaps, considering the miserable acting of the men. Miss
Faucit was alone in doing us justice.'

[23] A few lines have been cut off the letter at this place.

[24] A letter to the _Athenaeum_ on July 2, 1853, giving the result of
some experiments in table-turning, the tendency of which was to show
that the motion of the table was due to unconscious muscular action on
the part of the persons touching the table.

[25] Senatore Villari.

[26] Mr. George Barrett. The omitted passage describes an act of
generosity by him to one of his younger brothers.

[27] Hardly a successful horoscope of the future Ambassador at Paris and
Viceroy of India.

[28] Afterwards wife of Signor Carlo Botta, an Italian man of letters,
with whom she returned to America and lived in New York.

[29] This refers to the death of the infant child of the Storys, with
whom Mr. and Mrs. Browning were on intimate terms of friendship, as the
previous letters show.

[30] According to Mr. R.B. Browning, this is practically what has
happened with Page's portrait of Robert Browning (now in Venice). The
surface has become thick and waxy, and the portrait has almost
disappeared.

[31] Author of 'IX. Poems, by V.' (1840).

[32] This portrait is now in the possession of Mr. R.B. Browning at
Venice.

[33] _I.e._ 'grandfather,' a name by which Mr. Browning, senior, is
frequently referred to in these letters.

[34] 'Hush, hush!'

[35] For the subsequent fate of this picture, see note on p. 148, above.
[Transcriber's note: Reference is to Footnote [30].]

[36] To Mr. Barrett.

[37] This letter is written in very faint ink.

[38] The news of Inkerman had come only a few days before.

[39] Mrs. Browning's 'Song for the Ragged Schools of London' (_Poetical
Works_, iv. 270) and her husband's 'The Twins' were printed together as
a small pamphlet for sale at Miss Arabella Barrett's bazaar. Mrs.
Browning's poem had been written before they left Rome.

[40] The horrors of the Crimean winter were now becoming known, which
fully accounts for this outburst.

[41] The death of Mrs. Jameson's husband in 1854 had left her in very
straitened circumstances, which were ultimately relieved, in part, by a
subscription among her friends and the admirers of her works.

[42] Dr. Braun's _Ruins and Museums of Rome_ (1854).

[43] The late Lord Leighton, P.R.A.

[44] The picture of Cimabue's Madonna carried in procession through the
streets of Florence. It was exhibited in the Royal Academy Exhibition of
1855, and was bought by the Queen.

[45] In 1852.




CHAPTER IX

1855-1859


About a month after the date of the last letter, Mr. and Mrs. Browning
left Italy for the second time. As on the previous occasion (1851-2),
their absence extended over two summers and a winter, the latter being
spent in Paris, while portions of each summer were given up to visits to
England. Each of them was bringing home an important work for
publication, Mr. Browning's 'Men and Women,' containing much of his very
greatest poetry, being passed through the press in 1855, while Mrs.
Browning's 'Aurora Leigh,' although more than half of it had been
written before she left Florence, was not ready for printing until the
following year. They travelled direct from Florence to London, arriving
there apparently in the course of July, and taking up their quarters at
13 Dorset Street. Their stay there was made memorable, as Mrs. Browning
records below, by a visit from Tennyson, who read to them, on September
27, his new poem of 'Maud;' and it was while he was thus employed that
Rossetti drew a well-known portrait of the Laureate in pen and ink. But
in spite of glimpses of Tennyson, Ruskin, Carlyle, Kenyon, and other
friends, the visit to England was, on the whole, a painful one to Mrs.
Browning. Intercourse with her own family did not run smooth. One sister
was living at too great a distance to see her; the other was kept out of
her reach, for a considerable part of the time, by her father. In
addition, a third member of the Barrett family, her brother Alfred,
earned excommunication from his father's house by the unforgivable
offence of matrimony. Altogether it was not without a certain feeling of
relief that, in the middle of October, Mrs. Browning, with her husband
and child, left England for Paris. The whole visit had been so crowded
with work and social engagements as to leave little time for
correspondence; and the letters for the period are consequently few and
short.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

13 Dorset Street, Baker Street:
Tuesday, [July-August 1855].

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--I have waited days and days in the answering of
your dear, kind, welcoming letter, and yet I have been very very
grateful for it. Thank you. I need such things in England above other
places.

For the rest, we could not go to Herefordshire, even if I were rational,
which I am not; I could as soon open a coffin as do it: there's the
truth. The place is nothing to me, of course, only the string round a
faggot burnt or scattered. But if I went there, the thought of _one
face_ which never ceases to be present with me (and which I parted from
for ever in my poor blind unconsciousness with a pettish word) would
rise up, put down all the rest, and prevent my having one moment of
ordinary calm intercourse with you, so don't ask me; set it down to
mania or obstinacy, but I never _could_ go into that neighbourhood,
except to die, which I think sometimes I should like. So you may have me
some day when the physicians give me up, but then, you won't, you know,
and it wouldn't, any way, be merry visiting.

Foolish to write all this! As if any human being could know thoroughly
what _he_ was to me. It must seem so extravagant, and perhaps affected,
even to _you_, who are large-hearted and make allowances. After these
years!

And, after all, I might have just said the other truth, that we are at
the end of our purse, and can't travel any more, not even to Taunton,
where poor Henrietta, who is hindered from coming to me by a like
pecuniary straitness, begs so hard that we should go. Also, we are bound
to London by business engagements; a book in the press (Robert's two
volumes), and _proofs_ coming in at all hours. We have been asked to two
or three places at an hour's distance from London, and can't stir; to
Knebworth, for instance, where Sir Edward Lytton wants us to go. It
would be amusing in some ways; but we are tired. Also Robert's sister is
staying with us.

Also, we shall see you in Paris on the way to Pau next November, shall
we not? Write and tell me that we shall, and that you are not disgusted
with me meanwhile.

Do you know our news? Alfred is just married at the Paris Embassy to
Lizzie Barrett.... Of course, he makes the third exile from Wimpole
Street, the course of true love running remarkably rough in our house.
For the rest, there have been no _scenes_, I thank God, for dearest
Arabel's sake. He had written to my father nine or ten days before the
ceremony, received no answer, and followed up the silence rather briskly
by another letter to announce his marriage.... I am going to write to
him at Marseilles.

You cannot imagine to yourself the unsatisfactory and disheartening
turmoil in which we are at present. It's the mad bull and the china
shop, and, _nota bene_, we are the china shop. People want to see if
Italy has cut off our noses, or what! A very kind anxiety certainly, but
so horribly fatiguing that my heart sinks, and my brain goes round under
the process. O my Florence! how much better you are!

Have you heard that Wilson is married to a Florentine who lived once
with the Peytons, and is here now with us, a good, tender-hearted
man?[46]

I am tolerably well, though to breathe this heavy air always strikes me
as difficult; and my little Penini is very well, thank God. I want so
much to show him to you. We shall be here till the end of September, if
the weather admits of it, then go to Paris for the winter, then return
to London, and then--why, _that_ 'then' is too far off to see. Only we
talk of Italy in the distance.

My book is not ready for the press yet; and as to writing here, who
could produce an epic in the pauses of a summerset? Not that my poem is
an epic, I hurry on to say in consideration for dear Mr. Martin's
feelings. I flatter myself it's a _novel_, rather, a sort of novel in
verse. Arabel looks well.

What pens! What ink! Do write, and tell me of _you both_. I love you
cordially indeed.

Your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

13 Dorset Street: Tuesday, [July-August 1855].

My dearest Mona Nina,--I write to you in the midst of so much fatigue
and unsatisfactory turmoil, that I feel I shall scarcely be articulate
in what I say. Still, it must be tried, for I can't have you think that
I have come to London to forget you, much less to be callous to the
influence of this dear affectionate letter of yours. May God bless you!
How sorry I am that you should have vexation on the top of more serious
hurts to depress you. Indeed, if it were not for the _other side of the
tapestry_, it would seem not at all worth while for us to stand putting
in more weary Gobelin stitches (till we turn into goblins) day after
day, year after year, in this sad world. For my part, I am ready at
melancholy with anybody. The air, mentally or physically considered, is
very heavy for me here, and I long for the quiet of my Florence, where
somehow it always has gone best with my life. As to England, it affects
me so, in body, soul, and circumstances, that if I could not get away
soon, I should be provoked, I think, into turning monster and _hating_
the whole island, which shocks you so to hear, that you will be provoked
into not loving me, perhaps, and _that_ would really be too hard, after
all.

The best news I can give you is that Robert has printed the first half
volume of his poems, and that the work looks better than ever in print,
as all true work does brought into the light. He has read these proofs
to Mr. Fox (of Oldham), who gives an opinion that the poems are at the
top of art in their kind. I don't know whether you care for Mr. Fox's
opinion, but it's worth more than mine, of course, on the ground of
_impartiality_, to say no otherwise, and it will disappoint me much if
you don't confirm both of us presently. The poems, for variety,
vitality, and intensity, are quite worthy of the writer, it seems to me,
and a clear advance in certain respects on his previous productions.

Has 'Maud' penetrated to you? The winding up is magnificent, full of
power, and there are beautiful thrilling bits before you get so far.
Still, there is an appearance of labour in the early part; the language
is rather encrusted by skill than spontaneously blossoming, and the
rhythm is not always happy. The poet seems to aim at more breadth and
freedom, which he attains, but at the expense of his characteristic
delicious music. People in general appear very unfavourably impressed by
this poem, _very unjustly_, Robert and I think. On some points it is
even an advance. The sale is great, _nearly five thousand copies
already_.

Let me see what London news I have to tell you. We spent an evening with
Mr. Ruskin, who was gracious and generous, and strengthened all my good
impressions. Robert took our friend young Leighton to see him
afterwards, and was as kindly received. We met Carlyle at Mr. Forster's,
and found him in great force, particularly in the damnatory clauses. Mr.
Kinglake we saw twice at the Procters', and once here.... The Procters
are very well. How I like Adelaide's face! that's a face worth a drove
of beauties! Dear Mrs. Sartoris has just left London, I grieve to say;
and so has Mrs. Kemble, who (let me say it quick in a parenthesis) is
looking quite magnificent just now, with those gorgeous eyes of hers.
Mr. Kenyon, too, has vanished--gone with his brother to the Isle of
Wight. The weather has been very uncertain, cloudy, misty, and rainy,
with heavy air, ever since we came. Ferdinando keeps saying, 'Povera
gente, che deve vivere in questo posto,' and Penini catches it up, and
gives himself immense airs, discoursing about Florentine skies and the
glories of the Cascine to anyone who will listen. The child is well,
thank God, and in great spirits, which is my comfort. I found my dear
sister Arabel, too, well, and it is deep yet sad joy to me to look in
her precious loving eyes, which never failed me, nor could. Henrietta
will be hindered, perhaps, from coming to see me by want of means, poor
darling; and the same cause will keep me from going to Taunton. We have
a quantity of invitations to go into the country, to the Custs, to the
Martins, &c. &c., and (one which rather tempts _me_) to Knebworth, Sir
Edward Lytton having written us the kindest of possible invitations; but
none of these things are for us, I see.

Dearest friend, I do hope you won't go to Rome this winter. When you
have been to Vienna, come back, and let us have you in Paris. I am glad
Lady Elgin liked the book. The history of it was that she asked Robert
to get it for her, and he _presented_ it instead.

Our M. Milsand likes you much, he says, and I like you to hear it....

Oh, we read your graceful, spirited letter in the 'Athenaeum.' By the
way, did you see the absurd exposition of 'Maud' as an allegory? What
pure madness, instead of Maudness!

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

13 Dorset Street: Monday, [August-September 1855].

Day after day, my dearest Mrs. Martin, I have been meaning to write to
you, always in vain, and now I hear from Mrs. Ormus Biddulph that you
are not quite well. How is this? Shall I hear soon that you are better?
I want something to cheer me up a little. The bull is out of the china
shop, certainly, but the broken pottery doesn't enjoy itself much the
more for that. I have lost my Arabel (my one light in London), who has
had to go away to Eastbourne; very vexed at it, dear darling, though she
really required change of air. We, for our parts, are under promise to
follow her in a week, as it will be on our way to Paris, and not cost us
many shillings over the expenses of the direct route. But the days drag
themselves out, and there remains so much work (on proof sheets, &c.) to
be done here, that I despond of our being able to move as soon as I fain
would. I assure you I am stuffed as hard as a cricket ball with the work
of every day, and I have waited in vain for a clear hour to write
quietly and comfortably to you, in order to say how your letter touched
me, dear dear friend. You always understand. Your sympathy stretches
_beyond_ points of agreement, which is so rare and so precious, and
makes one feel so unspeakably grateful....

London has emptied itself, as you may suppose, by this time. Mrs. Ormus
Biddulph was so kind as to wish us to dine with them on Monday (to-day),
but we found it absolutely impossible. The few engagements we make we
don't keep, and I shall try for the future to avoid perjury. As it is, I
have no doubt that various people have set me down as 'full of arrogance
and assumption,' at which the gods must laugh, for really, if truths
could be known, I feel even morbidly humble just now, and could show my
sackcloth with anybody's sackcloth. But it is difficult to keep to the
conventions rigidly, and return visits to the hour, and hold engagements
to the minute, when one has neither carriage, nor legs, nor time at
one's disposal, which is my case. If I don't at once answer (for
instance) such a letter as you sent me, I must be a beggar....

May God bless you both, my very dear friends! My husband bids me
remember him to you in cordial regard. I long to see you, and to hear
(first) that you are well.

Dearest Mrs. Martin's ever attached
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

13 Dorset Street: Tuesday, [October 1855].

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--I can't go without writing to you, but I am
ground down with last things to do on last days, and it must be a word
only. Dearest friend, I have waited morning after morning for a clear
half-hour, because I didn't like to do your bidding and write briefly,
though now, after all, I am reduced to it. We leave England to-morrow,
and shall sleep (D.V.) at 102 _Rue de Grenelle, Faubourg St. Germain,
Paris_,--I am afraid in a scarcely convenient apartment, which a zealous
friend, in spite of our own expressed opinion, secured for us for the
term of six months, because of certain yellow satin furniture which only
she could consider 'worthy of us.' We shall probably have to dress on
the staircase, but what matter? There's the yellow satin to fall back
upon.

If the rooms are not tenable, we must underlet them, or try....

One of the pleasantest things which has happened to us here is the
coming down on us of the Laureate, who, being in London for three or
four days from the Isle of Wight, spent two of them with us, dined with
us, smoked with us, opened his heart to us (and the second bottle of
port), and ended by reading 'Maud' through from end to end, and going
away at half-past two in the morning. If I had had a heart to spare,
certainly he would have won mine. He is captivating with his frankness,
confidingness, and unexampled _naivete_! Think of his stopping in 'Maud'
every now and then--'There's a wonderful touch! That's very tender. How
beautiful that is!' Yes, and it _was_ wonderful, tender, beautiful, and
he read exquisitely in a voice like an organ, rather music than speech.

War, war! It is terrible certainly. But there are worse plagues, deeper
griefs, dreader wounds than the physical. What of the forty thousand
wretched women in this city? The silent writhing of them is to me more
appalling than the roar of the cannons. Then this war is _necessary_ on
our sides. Is _that_ wrong necessary? It is not so clear to me.

Can I write of such questions in the midst of packing?

May God bless you both! Write to me in Paris, and do come soon and find
us out.

Robert's love. My love to you both, dearest friends. May God bless you!
Your ever affectionate

BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Ruskin_

13 Dorset Street:
Tuesday morning, October 17, 1855 [postmark].

My dear Mr. Ruskin,--I can't express our amount of mortification in
being thwarted in the fulfilment of the promise you allowed us to make
to ourselves, that we would go down to you once more before leaving
England. What with the crush rather than press of circumstances, I have
scarcely needed the weather to pin me to the wall. Sometimes my husband
could not go with me, sometimes I couldn't go with him, and always we
waited for one another in hope, till this last day overtook us.
To-morrow (D.V.) we shall be in Paris. Now, will you believe how we have
wished and longed to see you beyond these strait tantalising
limits?--how you look to us at this moment like the phantasm of a thing
dear and desired, just seen and vanishing? What! are you to be ranked
among my spiritualities after all? Forgive me that wrong.

Then you had things to say to me, I know, which in your consideration,
and through my cowardice, you did not say, but yet will!

Will you write to me, dear Mr. Ruskin, sometimes, or have I disgusted
you so wholly that you won't or can't?

Once, I know, somewhat because of shyness and somewhat because of
intense apprehension--somewhat, too, through characteristic stupidity
(no contradiction this!)--I said I was grateful to you when you had just
bade me not. Well, I really couldn't help it. That's all I can say now.
Even if your appreciation were perfectly deserved at all points, why,
appreciation means sympathy, and sympathy being the best gift nearly
which one human creature can give another, I don't understand (I never
could) why it does not deserve thanks. I am stupid perhaps, but for my
life I never could help being grateful to the people who loved me, even
if they happened to say, 'I can't help it! not I!'

As for Mr. Ruskin, he sees often in his own light. That's what I see and
feel.

Will you write to me sometimes? I come back to it. Will you, though I am
awkward and shy and obstinate now and then, and a wicked spiritualist to
wit--a _realist_ in an out-of-the-world sense--accepting matter as a
means (no matter for it otherwise!)?

Don't give me up, dear Mr. Ruskin! My husband's truest regards, and
farewell from both of us! I would fain be

Your affectionate friend,
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

Our address in Paris will be, _102 Rue de Grenelle, Faubourg St.
Germain_.

       *       *       *       *       *


The house in the Rue de Grenelle, however, did not prove a success, in
spite of the consolations of the yellow satin, and after six weeks of
discomfort and house-hunting the Brownings moved to 3 Rue de Colisee,
which became their home for the next eight months. It was a period,
first of illness caused by the unsuitable rooms, and then of hard work
for Mrs. Browning, who was engaged in completing 'Aurora Leigh,' while
her husband was less profitably employed in the attempt to recast
'Sordello' into a more intelligible form. No such incident as the visits
to George Sand marked this stay in Paris, and politics were in a very
much less exciting state. The Crimean war was just coming to a close,
and public opinion in England was far from satisfied with the conduct of
its ally; but on the whole the times were uneventful.

The first letter from Paris has, however, a special interest as
containing a very full estimate of the character and genius of Mrs.
Browning's dear friend, Miss Mitford. It is addressed to Mr. Ruskin, who
had been unceasingly attentive and helpful to Miss Mitford during her
declining days.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Ruskin_

Paris, 102 Rue de Grenelle, Faubourg St. Germain:
November 5, [1855].

My dear Mr. Ruskin,--I thank you from my heart for your more than
interesting letter. You have helped me to see that dear friend of ours,
as without you I could not have seen her, in those last affecting days
of illness, by the window not only of the house in Berkshire, but of the
house of the body and of the material world--an open window through
which the light shone, thank God. It would be a comfort to me now if I
had had the privilege of giving her a very very little of the great
pleasure you certainly gave her (for I know how she enjoyed your
visit--she wrote and told me), but I must be satisfied with the thought
left to me, that now _she_ regrets nothing, not even great pleasures.

I agree with you in much if not in everything you have written of her.
It was a great, warm, outflowing heart, and the head was worthy of the
heart. People have observed that she resembled Coleridge in her granite
forehead--something, too, in the lower part of the face--however unlike
Coleridge in mental characteristics, in his tendency to abstract
speculation, or indeed his ideality. There might have been, as you
suggest, a somewhat different development elsewhere than in
Berkshire--not very different, though--souls don't grow out of the
ground.

I agree quite with you that she was stronger and wider in her
conversation and letters than in her books. Oh, I have said so a hundred
times. The heat of human sympathy seemed to bring out her powerful
vitality, rustling all over with laces and flowers. She seemed to think
and speak stronger holding a hand--not that she required help or
borrowed a word, but that the human magnetism acted on her nature, as it
does upon men born to speak. Perhaps if she had been a man with a man's
opportunities, she would have spoken rather than written a reputation.
Who can say? She hated the act of composition. Did you hear that from
her ever?

Her letters were always admirable, but I do most deeply regret that what
made one of their greatest charms unfits them for the public--I mean
their personal details. Mr. Harness sends to me for letters, and when I
bring them up, and with the greatest pain force myself to examine them
(all those letters she wrote to me in her warm goodness and
affectionateness), I find with wonder and sorrow how only a half-page
here and there _could_ be submitted to general readers--_could_, with
any decency, much less delicacy.

But no, her 'judgment' was not 'unerring.' She was too intensely
sympathetical not to err often, and in fact it was singular (or seemed
so) what faces struck her as most beautiful, and what books as most
excellent. If she loved a person, it was enough. She made mistakes one
couldn't help smiling at, till one grew serious to adore her for it. And
yet when she read a book, provided it wasn't written by a friend, edited
by a friend, lent by a friend, or associated with a friend, her judgment
could be fine and discriminating on most subjects, especially upon
subjects connected with life and society and manners. Shall I confess?
She never taught _me_ anything but a very limited admiration of Miss
Austen, whose people struck me as wanting souls, even more than is
necessary for men and women of the world. The novels are perfect as far
as they go--that's certain. Only they don't go far, I think. It may be
my fault.

You lay down your finger and stop me, and exclaim that it's my way
perhaps to attribute a leaning of the judgment through personal sympathy
to people in general--that I do it perhaps to _you_. No, indeed. I can
quite easily believe that you don't either think or say 'the pleasantest
things to your friends;' in fact, I am sure you don't. You would say
them as soon to your enemies--perhaps sooner. Also, when you began to
say pleasant things to me, you hadn't a bit of personal feeling to make
a happy prejudice of, and really I can't flatter myself that you have
now. What I meant was that you, John Ruskin, not being a critic _sal
merum_ as the ancients had it, but half critic, and half poet, may be
rather encumbered sometimes by the burning imagination in you, may be
apt sometimes, when you turn the light of your countenance on a thing,
to see the thing lighted up as a matter of course, just as we, when we
carried torches into the Vatican, were not perfectly clear how much we
brought to that wonderful Demosthenes, folding the marble round him in
its thousand folds--how much we brought, and how much we received. Was
it the sculptor or was it the torch-bearer who produced that effect? And
like doubts I have had of you, I confess, and not only when you have
spoken kindly of _me_. You don't mistake by your heart, through loving,
but you exaggerate by your imagination, through glorifying. There's my
thought at least.

But what I meant by 'apprehending too intensely,' dear Mr. Ruskin, don't
ask me. Really I have forgotten. I suppose I did mean something, though
it was a day of chaos and packing boxes--try to think I did therefore,
and let it pass.

You please me--oh, so much--by the words about my husband. When you
wrote to praise my poems, of course I had to bear it--I couldn't turn
round and say, 'Well, and why don't you praise him, who is worth twenty
of me? Praise my second Me, as well as my Me proper, if you please.'
One's forced to be rather decent and modest for one's husband as well as
for one's self, even if it's harder. I couldn't pull at your coat to
read 'Pippa Passes,' for instance. I can't now.

But you have put him on the shelf, so we have both taken courage to send
you his new volumes, 'Men and Women,' not that you may say 'pleasant
things' of them or think yourself bound to say anything indeed, but that
you may accept them as a sign of the esteem and admiration of both of
us. I consider them on the whole an advance upon his former poems, and
am ready to die at the stake for my faith in these last, even though the
discerning public should set it down afterwards as only a 'Heretic's
Tragedy.'

Our friend Mr. Jarves came to read a part of your letter to us,
confirmatory of doctrines he had heard from us on an earlier day. The
idea of your writing the art criticisms of the 'Leader' (!) was so
stupendously ludicrous, there was no need of faith in your loyalty to
laugh the whole imputation, at first hearing, to uttermost scorn. I must
say, in justice to Mr. Jarves, that he never did really believe one word
of it, though a good deal ruffled and pained that it should have been
believed by anybody. He is full of admiring and grateful feeling for
you, and has gone on to Italy in that mind.

As for me, I almost yearn to go too. We have fallen into a pit here in
Paris, upon evil days and rooms, an impulsive friend having taken an
apartment for us facing the east, insufficiently protected, and with a
bedroom wanting, so that we are still waiting, with trunks unpacked, and
our child sleeping on the floor, till we can get emancipated anyhow.
Then, through the last week's cold, I have not been well--only it will
not, I think, be much, as I am better already, and there will be no
practical end to the talk of Nice and Pau, which my husband had begun a
little. All this has hindered me from following my first impulse of
thanking you for your letter immediately.

How beautiful Paris is, and how I agree with you, as we both did with
dear Miss Mitford, on the subject of Louis Napoleon. I approve of him
_exactly because_ I am a democrat, and not at all for an exceptional
reason. I hold that the most democratical government in Europe is out
and out the French Government (which doesn't exclude the absolutist
element, far from it); but who in England understands this? and that the
representative man of France, the incarnate republic, is the man Louis
Napoleon? An extraordinary man he is. I never was a Buonapartist, though
the legend of the First Napoleon has wrung tears from me before now, and
I was very sorry when Louis Napoleon was elected instead of Cavaignac.
At the _coup d'etat_ I was not sorry. And since then I have believed in
him more and more.

So far in sympathy. In regard to the slaves, no, no, no; I belong to a
family of West Indian slaveholders, and if I believed in curses, I
should be afraid. I can at least thank God that I am not an American.
How you look serenely at slavery, I cannot understand, and I distrust
your power to explain. Do you indeed?

Dear Mr. Ruskin, do let us hear from you sometimes. It is such a great
gift, a letter of yours. Then remember that I am a spirit in prison all
the winter, not able to stir out. Up to this time we have lived _perdus_
from all our acquaintances because of our misfortunes. With my husband's
cordial regards, I remain most truly yours always,

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

The publishers are directed to send you the volumes on their
publication.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

[Paris] 3 Rue du Colisee, Avenue des Champs-Elysees:
Saturday, December 17, 1855 [postmark].

How pleasant, dearest Mona Nina, to hear you, though the voice sounds
far! Try and come back to us soon, and let us talk, or listen, rather,
to your talking. Why shouldn't _I_, too, have a sister of charity, like
others? I appeal to you.

Still, I have only good to tell you of myself. I am better through the
better weather and through our arrival in this apartment, where, as
Robert says, we are as pleased as if we had never lived in a house
before. Well, I assure you the rooms are perfect in comfort and
convenience; not large, but _warm_, and of a number and arrangement
which exclude all fault-finding. Clean, carpeted; no glitter, nothing
very pretty--not even the clocks--but with sofas and chairs suited to
lollers such as one of us, and altogether what I mean whenever I say
that an 'apartment' on the Continent is twenty times more really
'comfortable' than any of your small houses in England. Robert has a
room to himself too. It's perfect. I hop about from one side to the
other, like a bird in a new cage. The feathers are draggled and rough,
though. I am not strong, though the cough is quieter without the least
doubt.

And this time also I shall not die, perhaps. Indeed, I do think not.

That darling Robert carried me into the carriage, swathed past possible
breathing, over face and respirator in woollen shawls. No, he wouldn't
set me down even to walk up the fiacre steps, but shoved me in upside
down, in a struggling bundle--I struggling for breath--he accounting to
the concierge for 'his murdered man' (rather woman) in a way which threw
me into fits of laughter afterwards to remember. 'Elle se porte tres
bien! elle se porte extremement bien. Ce n'est rien que les poumons.'
Nothing but lungs! No air in them, which was the worst! Think how the
concierge must have wondered ever since about 'cet original d'Anglais,'
and the peculiar way of treating wives when they are in excellent
health. 'Sacre.'

Kind Madame Mohl was here to-day, asking about you; and the Aides, male
and female, whom we did not see, being at dinner; and dear Lady Elgin
came to the door in her wheel-chair.

We keep Penini (in a bed this time) in our bedroom. He was so pathetic
about it, we would not lose him.

Write to us, keep writing to us, till you come. I think much of you,
wish much for you, and feel much _with_ you. May God bless you, my dear
dear friend! The frost broke up on Thursday, and it is raining warmly
to-day; but I can't believe in the possibility of the cold penetrating
much into this house under worse circumstances; and I shall be bold, and
try hard to begin writing next week.

Oh! George Sand. How magnificent that eighteenth volume is; I mean the
volume which concludes with the views upon the _sexes_! After all, and
through all, if her hands are ever so defiled, that woman has a clean
soul.

On the magnetic subjects, too, her 'je ne sais' is worthy of her. And
yet, more is to be known I am sure, than she knows.

I read this book so eagerly and earnestly that I seem to burn it up
before me. Really there are great things in it.

And to hear people talking it over coldly, pulling it leaf from leaf!

Robert quite joins with me at last. He is intensely interested, and full
of admiration.

Now do write. With our united love, we are ever yours, be certain!

R.B. and E.B.B.

Remember not to agree to do the etching. Pray be careful not to involve
the precious eyes too much. How easy it would be to etch them out!
Frightfully easy.


       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

[Paris] 3: Rue du Colisee:
Monday, January 29, 1856 [postmark].

Dearest Fanny,--I can't get over it that you should fancy I meant to
'banter' you.[47] If I wrote lightly, it was partly that _you_ wrote
lightly, and partly perhaps because at bottom I wasn't light at all.
When one feels out of spirits, it's the most natural thing possible to
be extravagantly gay; now, isn't it?

And now believe me with what truth and earnestness of heart I am
interested in all that concerns you; and this is every woman's chief
concern, of course, this great fact of love and marriage. My advice is,
be sure of him _first_, and of yourself _chiefly_. For the rest I would
marry ('if I were a woman,' I was going to say), though the whole world
spouted fire in my face. Marriage is a personal matter, be sure, and the
nearest and wisest can't judge for you. If you can make up two hundred a
year between you, or less even, there is no pecuniary obstacle in my
eyes. People may live very cheaply and very happily if they are happy
otherwise.

As for me, my only way was to cut the knot--because it was an untieable
knot--and because my fingers generally are not strong at untieing. What
do you mean by Mr. Kenyon's backing me? Nobody backed me except the
north wind which blew us vehemently out of England. Mr. Kenyon knew no
more of the affair than you did, though he was very kind afterwards and
took my part. And as to money, there was (and is) little enough. It was
a case of pure madness (for people of the world), just like table-moving
and spirit-rapping and the 'hands'!

But you, my dear friend, I do earnestly entreat you to consider if you
are sure of principles, sentiment--and _of yourself_. Because, whether
you know it or not, you are happily situated _now_ as far as exterior
circumstances are concerned. They are not worth much, but they have
their worth. They give you liberty to follow your own devices, to think
the beautiful and feel the noble; to live out, in short, your individual
life, which it is so hard to do in marriage, even where you marry
worthily.

I say this probably 'as one who beateth the air;' yet you _must_
consider that I who say it, and who say it _emphatically_, consider a
happy marriage as the happiest state, and that all pecuniary reasons
against love are both ineffectual and _stupid_.

Flippancy, flippancy, of course. London would be better (for your
friends) as a residence for you, than Wittemberg can be; and for that,
and no other account, I could be sorry that you did not settle _so_.

Well, never mind! The description sounds excellently; almost
over-romantic, though. Is there steadiness, do you think, and depth, and
reliableness altogether? What impression does he make among those who
have known him longest? Dearest Fanny, do nothing in haste.

Now I am going to tell you something which has vexed me, and continues
to vex me. The clock. If you knew Robert, you never would have asked
him. He has a sort of mania about shops, and won't buy his own gloves.
He bought a pair of boots the other day (because I went down on my knees
to ask him, and the water was running in through his soles), and he will
not soon get over it. Without exaggeration, he would rather leap down
among the lions after your glove, as the knight of old, than walk into a
shop for you. If I could but go out, there would be no difficulties; but
I am shut up in my winter prison, in spite of the extraordinarily mild
weather, through having suffered so much in the beginning of the winter.
I asked Sarianna; she also shrinks from the responsibility; is afraid of
not pleasing you, &c. The end of it all is that Mrs. Haworth will think
us all very disobliging barbarians, and that really I am vexed. Why not
ask Mrs. Cochrane to get the thing for you? You can but ask, at any
rate.

I am very anxious just now about dear Mr. Kenyon, who has been
alarmingly ill, and is only better, I fear. Miss Bayley wrote to tell
me, and added that he was going to Cowes when he could move, which
pleases me; for only change of air and liberation from London air can
complete his convalescence.

For the rest, I am busy beyond description; but never too much so, mind,
dear Fanny, to be glad to get your letters. Write soon. Your ever
affectionate

E.B.B.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

[Paris]: 3 Rue du Colisee: February 21, [1856].

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--I should have answered your note days ago! If
you saw how I am in a plague of industry just now, and not a moment
unspotted!--how, for instance, I kept an 'Examiner' newspaper (sent to
us from London) three days on the table before I could read it,--you
would make an allowance for me. It's a sort of _furia_! I must get over
so much writing, or I shall be too late for the summer's printing. If it
isn't done by June, what will become of me? I shall go back to Italy in
disgrace, and considerably poorer than I need be, which is of more
practical consequence. So I fag. Then there's an hour and a half in the
morning for Penini's lessons. We breakfast at nine, and receive nobody
till past four. This will all prove to you two things, dearest
friend--first (I hope) that I'm pardonable for making you wait a few
days longer than should have been, and secondly that I'm tolerably well.
Yes, indeed. Since our arrival in this house, after just the first, when
there was some frost, we have had such a miraculous mildness under the
name of winter, that I rallied as a matter of course, and for the last
month there has been no return of the spitting of blood, and no
extravagance of cough. I have persisted with cod's liver oil, and I look
by no means ill, people assure me, and so I may assure _you_. But I am
not very strong, and was a good deal tired after a two hours' drive
which I ventured on a week ago in the Bois de Boulogne. The small rooms,
and deficiency of air resulting from them, make a long shutting up a
more serious thing than I find it in Florence in our acres of apartment.
But it is easy to mend strength when only strength is to be mended, and
I, for one, get strong again easily. I only hope that the cold is not
returning. The air was sharp yesterday and is to-day; but it's
February, and the spring is at the doors, and we may hope with
reason....

What do you say of the peace as a final peace? You are not at least
vexed, as so many English are, that we can't fight a little for glory to
reinstate our reputation. You'll excuse that. Still, I can't help
feeling disappointed in the peace--chiefly, perhaps, because I hoped too
much from the war. Will nothing be done after all for Italy? nothing for
Poland?

You want books. Read About's 'Tolla.' He is a new writer, and his book
is exquisite as a transcript of Italian manners. Then read Octave
Feuillet. There is much in him.

Will there be war with America, dear Mr. Martin? Never will I believe it
till I hear the cannons.

Talking of what we should believe, it appears that Mrs. Trollope has
thrown over Hume[48] from some failure in his moral character in
Florence. I have had many letters on the subject. I have no doubt that
the young man, who is weak and vain, and was exposed to gross flatteries
from the various unwise coteries at Florence who took him up, deserves
to be thrown over. But his _mediumship_ is undisproved, as far as I can
understand. It is simply a physical faculty--he is quite an electric
wire. At Florence everybody is quarrelling with everybody on the
subject. I thought I would tell you.

Penini, the pet, is radiant, and learning French triumphantly. May God
bless you! Write to me, dearest Mrs. Martin, and tell me of both of you.
Robert's love.

Your ever, ever affectionate
BA.


       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

[Paris]: 3 Rue du Colisee: February 28, 1856 [postmark].

My dearest Mona Nina,--Three letters, one on the top of another, and I
don't answer. Shame on me. How I have thought of you, to make up! And
you write to apologise to _us_, from a dreamy mystical apprehension that
we may peradventure have lost eightpence on your account! Well, it would
have been awful if we had. And so Providence interposed with a special
miracle, and obliged the officials to accept the actual penny stamp for
the fourpenny stamp you meant to put, and _we paid just nothing for the
terrible letter_! Take heart, therefore, in future, before all
hypothetical misfortunes. That's the moral of the tale....

My dear friend, how shall I pull you and make you come to Paris? Madame
de Triqueti was here the other day, and spoke of you, and swore she
wouldn't help to take rooms for you, unless you came near _her_. As to
the two rooms you speak of, I am sure you might have what rooms you
pleased now, in this neighbourhood. What would you give? Our present
apartment is comfort itself, and except some cold days a short time
after you went away, we have really had no winter. The miraculous warmth
has saved me, for I was so _felled_ in that Rue de Grenelle, I should
scarcely have had force against an ordinary cold season. Little Penini
has been blossoming like a rose all the time. Such a darling, idle,
distracted child he is, not keeping his attention for three minutes
together for the hour and a half I teach him, and when I upbraid him for
it, throwing himself upon me like a dog, kissing my cheeks and head and
hands. 'O you little pet, _dive_ me one chance more! I will really be
dood,' and learning everything by magnetism, getting on in seven weeks,
for instance, to read French quite surprisingly. He has written a poem
on the war and the peace, called 'Soldiers going and coming,' which
Robert and I thought so remarkable that I sent it to Mr. Forster. Oh,
such a darling, that child is! I expect the wings to grow presently.

As for my poem (far below Penini's), I work on steadily and have put in
order and transcribed five books, containing in all above six thousand
lines ready for the press. I have another book to put together and
transcribe, and then must begin the composition part of one or two more
books, I suppose. I must be ready for printing by the time we go to
England, in June. Robert too is much occupied with 'Sordello,'[49] and
we neither of us receive anybody till past four o'clock. I mean that
when you have read my new book, you put away all my other poems or most
of them, and know me only by the new. Oh, I am so anxious to make it
good. I have put much of myself in it--I mean to say, of my soul, my
thoughts, emotions, opinions; in other respects, there is not a personal
line, of course. It's a sort of poetic art-novel. If it's a failure,
there will be the comfort of having made a worthy effort, of having done
it as well as I could. Write soon to me, and love us both constantly, as
we do you.

Your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

[Paris]: May 2, 1856 [postmark].

My dearest Mona Nina,--It's very pleasant always to get letters from
you, and such kind dear letters, showing that you haven't broken the
tether-strings in search of 'pastures new,' weary of our cropped grass.

As for news, you have most of the persons upon whom you care for gossip
in your hand now--Mrs. Sartoris, Madame Viardot, Lady Monson, and the
Ristori herself. Robert went to see her twice, because Lady Monson led
him by the hand kindly, and was charmed; thought the Medee very fine,
but won't join in the cry about miraculous genius and Rachel
out-Racheled. He thinks that as far as the highest and largest
development of sensibility can go, she is very great; but that for those
grand and sudden _apercus_ which have distinguished actors--such as
Kean, for instance--he does not acknowledge them in her. You have heard
perhaps how Dickens and others, Macready among the rest, depreciated
her. Dickens went so far as to say, I understand, that no English
audience would tolerate her defects; which will be put to the proof
presently. By the way, you had better not quote Macready on this
subject, as he expressed himself unwilling to be quoted on it....

So now we are well again,[50] thank God; and if Robert will but take
regular exercise, he will keep so, I hope. As to Penini, he is radiant,
and even I have been out walking twice, though a good deal weaker for
the winter. More open air, and much more, is necessary to set me growing
again, but I shall grow; and meantime I have been working, and am
working, at so close a rate that if I lose a day I am lost, which is too
close a rate, and makes one feel rather nervous. We see nobody till
after four meantime. I have finished (not transcribed) the last book but
one, and am now in the very last book, which must be finished with the
last days of May. Then the first fortnight of June will be occupied with
the transcription of these two last books, and I shall carry the
completed work with me to England on the 16th if it please God. Oh, I do
hope you won't be disappointed with it--much! Some things you will like
certainly, because of the boldness and veracity of them, and others you
_may_; I can't be so sure. Robert speaks well of the poetry--encourages
me much. But then he has seen only six of the eight books yet.

He just now has taken to drawing, and after thirteen days' application
has produced some quite startling copies of heads. I am very glad. He
can't rest from serious work in light literature, as I can; it wearies
him, and there are hours which are on his hands, which is bad both for
them and for him. The secret of life is in full occupation, isn't it?
This world is not tenable on other terms. So while I lie on the sofa and
rest in a novel, Robert has a resource in his drawing; and really, with
all his feeling and knowledge of art, some of the mechanical trick of it
can't be out of place.

To-night he is going to Madame Mohl, who is well and as vivacious as
ever. When Monckton Milnes was in Paris he dined with him in company
with Mignet, Cavour, George Sand, and an empty chair in which Lamartine
was expected to sit. George Sand had an ivy wreath round her head, and
looked like herself; But Lady Monson will talk to you of _her_, better
than I can. Now, mind you ask Lady Monson.

As to this Government, I only entreat you _not_ to believe any of the
mendacious reports set afloat here by a most unworthy Opposition, and
carried out by the English 'Athenaeum' and other prints. Surely a cause
must be bad which is supported by such bad means. In the first place,
Beranger did _not_ write the verses attributed to him. The internal
evidence was sufficient--for Victor Hugo is his personal enemy--to say
nothing of the poetry. Then it would be wise, I think, in considering
this question, and in taking for granted that the 'literature and
talent' of the country are against the Government, to analyse the
antecedents and character of the persons who _do_ stand out, persons
implicated in former Governments, or favored by former Governments, and
whose vanity and prejudices are necessarily contrary to a new order.
These persons, either in themselves or their friends, have all been
tried in action and found wanting. They have all lost the confidence of
the French people, either by their misconduct or their ill-fortune.
They are all cast aside as broken instruments. Under these circumstances
they think it desirable to break themselves into the lock, to prevent
the turning of another key; they consider it noble and patriotic to
stand aside and revile and throw mud, in order to hinder the action of
those who _are_ acting for the country. In my mind, it is quite
otherwise; in my mind and in many other minds--Robert's, for instance!
and he began with a most intense hatred of this Government, as you well
know. But he does not shut his eyes to all that is noble and admirable
going on, on all sides. At last he is sick of the Opposition, he admits.
In respect to literature, nothing can be more mendacious than to say
there are restraints upon literature. Books of freer opinion are printed
now than would ever have been permitted under Louis Philippe, as was
reproached against Napoleon by an enemy the other day--books of free
opinion, even licentious opinion, on religion and philosophy. _There is
restraint in the newspapers only._ That the 'Athenaeum' should venture to
say that in consequence of the suppression of books compositors are
thrown out of work and forced to become transcribers of verses like
Beranger's (which are not Beranger's) is so stupendous a falsehood in
the face of _statistics which prove a yearly increase in the amount of
books printed_ that I quite lose my breath, you see, in speaking of it.

The Government is steadily solving, or attempting to solve, that
difficult modern problem of possible _Socialism_ which has been knocking
at all our heads and hearts so long. _That_ is its vexation. It is a
Government for the _'bus people_, the first settled and serious
Government that ever attempted _their_ case. Its action is worth all the
pedantry of the _doctrinaires_ and the middling morals of the _juste
milieu_; and I, who am a Democrat, will stand by it as long as I can
stand, which isn't very long just now, as I told you.

Dearest Mona Nina, I am so uneasy about dear Mr. Kenyon, who has been
ill again--_is_ ill, I fear. He is in London--more's the pity! and Miss
Bayley is with him. He gives me sad thoughts.

Do write of yourself. Don't _you_ be sad, dearest friend. Oh, I do wish
you could have come, and let us love you and talk to you--but on the
16th of June, at any rate.

Your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

[Paris]: Monday, May 6, 1856 [postmark].

My dearest Mona Nina,--Your letter makes me feel very uncomfortable. We
are in real difficulty about our dear friend Mr. Kenyon, the impulse
being, of course, that Robert should go at once, and then the fear
coming that it might be an annoyance, an intrusion, something the
farthest from what it should be at all. If you had been more
explicit--_you_--and we could know what was in your mind when you 'ask'
Robert to come, my dear friend, then it would be all easier. If we could
but know whether anything passed between you and Miss Bayley on this
subject, or whether it is entirely out of your own head that you wish
Robert to come. I thought about it yesterday, till I went to bed at
eight o'clock with headache. Shall I tell you something in your ear? It
is easier for a rich man to enter, after all, into the kingdom of heaven
than into the full advantages of real human tenderness. Robert would
give much at this moment to be allowed to go to dearest Mr. Kenyon, sit
up with him, hold his hand, speak a good loving word to him. This would
be privilege to him and to me; and love and gratitude on our parts
justified us in _asking_ to be allowed to do it. Twice we have asked.
The first time a very kind but decided negative was returned to us on
the part of our friend. Yesterday we again asked. Yesterday I wrote to
say that it would be _consolation_ to us if Robert might go--if we might
say so without 'teasing.' To-morrow, in the case of Miss Bayley sending
a consent, even on her own part, Robert will set off instantly; but
without an encouraging word from her--my dear friend, do you not see
that it might really vex dearest Mr. Kenyon? Observe, we have no more
right of intruding than you would have if you forced your way upstairs.
It's a wretched world, where we can't express an honest affection
honestly without half appearing indelicate to ourselves; nothing proves
more how the dirt of the world is up to our chins, and I think I had my
headache yesterday really and absolutely from simple disgust.

You see, Robert might go to stay till Mr. Edward Kenyon arrives--if it
were only till then. I still hope and pray that our dearest friend may
rally, to recover at least a tolerable degree of health. He has certain
good symptoms; and some of the bad ones, such as the wandering, &c., are
constitutional with him under the least fever. You may suppose what
painful anxiety we are in about him. Oh, he has been always so good to
me--so true, sympathising, and generous a friend!

I shall always have a peculiar feeling to that dear kind Miss Bayley for
what she has been to him these latter months.

Now I can't write any more just now. Leighton has been cut up
unmercifully by the critics, but bears on, Robert says, not without
courage. That you should say 'his picture looked well' was comfort in
the general gloom, though even you don't give anything yet that can be
called an opinion. Mrs. Sartoris will be much vexed by it all, I am
sure.

May God bless you! Write to me. Robert's love with that of

Your ever affectionate
BA.

Did you observe a portrait of Robert by Page? Where have they hung it,
and how does it strike you?

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

[Paris]: 3 Rue du Colisee:
Saturday, June 17, 1856 [postmark].

My dearest Fanny,--I was just going to write to you to beg you to apply
to Chapman for Robert's book, when he came to stop me with the
newspaper. Thank you, my dearest Fanny, for having thought of me when
you had so much weary thought; it was very touching to me that you
should. And I am vexed to have missed two days before I told you
this--the first by an accident, and the second (to-day) by its being a
blank post-day; but you will know by your heart how deeply I have felt
and feel for you. May God bless you and love you! If I were as He to
comfort, you should be strong and calm at this moment. But what are we
to one another in this world? How weak, how far, we all feel in moments
like these.

Still, I should like to know that you had some friend near you, to hold
your hand and look in your face and be silent, as those are silent who
know and feel. When you can write again, tell me how it is with you in
this respect, and in others.

So sudden, so sudden! Yet bereavements like these are always sudden to
the soul, more or less. All _blows_ must needs be sudden. May your
health not suffer, dear Fanny. We shall be in London in about a week
after the 16th, for we are delayed through my not having finished my
poem, which nobody will finish reading perhaps. We go to Mr. Kenyon's
house in Devonshire Place, kindly offered to us for the summer. Shall we
find you, I wonder, in London?

Yes; there are terrible costs in this world. We get knowledge by losing
what we hoped for, and liberty by losing what we loved. But this world
is a fragment--or, rather, a segment--and it will be rounded presently,
to the completer satisfaction. Not to doubt _that_ is the greatest
blessing it gives now. Death is as vain as life; the common impression
of it, as false and as absurd. A mere change of circumstances. What
more? And how near these spirits are, how conscious, how full of active
energy and tender reminiscence and interest, who shall dare to doubt?
For myself, I do not doubt at all. If I did, I should be sitting here
inexpressibly sad--for myself, not you....

Robert unites with me in affectionate sympathy, and Sarianna was here
last night, talking feelingly about you. You shall have Robert's book
when we get to England. Think how much I think of you.

Your ever affectionate
BA.

Mr. Kenyon has been very ill, and is still in a state occasioning
anxiety. He is at the Isle of Wight.

       *       *       *       *       *


At the end of June the Brownings came back to London, for what was, as
it proved, Mrs. Browning's last visit to England. Mr. Kenyon had lent
them his house in London, at 39 Devonshire Place, he himself being in
the Isle of Wight; but a shadow was thrown over the whole of this visit
by the serious and ultimately fatal illness of this dear friend. It was
partly in order to see him, and partly because Miss Arabel Barrett had
been sent out of town by her father almost as soon as her sister reached
Devonshire Place, that about the beginning of September they made an
expedition to the Isle of Wight, staying first at Ventnor with Miss
Barrett, and subsequently at West Cowes with Mr. Kenyon. All the while
Mrs. Browning was actively engaged in seeing 'Aurora Leigh' through the
press, and the poem was published just about the time they left England.
The letters during this visit are few and mostly unimportant, but the
following are of interest.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

39 Devonshire Place:
Friday morning [July-August 1856].

My dearest Mona Nina, my dear friend,--I am so grieved, so humiliated.
If it is possible to forgive me, do.

I received your note, delayed answering it because I fancied Robert
might _learn_ to accept your kindness about the box after a day's
consideration, and so forgot everything bodily, taking one day for
another, as is my way lately, in this great crush of too much to do and
think of. When I was persuaded to go yesterday morning for the first and
last time to the Royal Academy, on the point of closing, I went in like
an idiot--that is, an innocent--never once thinking of what I was
running the risk of losing; and when I returned and found you gone, you
were lost and I in despair. So much in despair that I did not hope once
you might come again, and out I went after dinner to see the Edward
Kenyons in Beaumont Street, like an innocent--that is, an idiot--and so
lost you again. You may forgive me--it is possible--but to forgive
myself! it is more difficult. Try not quite to give me up for it. Your
note gave me so much pleasure. I _wished_ so to see you! For the future
I mean to write down engagements in a text-hand, and set them up
somewhere in sight; but if I broke through twenty others as shamefully,
it would not be with as much real grief to myself as in this fault to my
dearest Mona Nina. Do come soon, out of mercy--and magnanimity!

Your _ever_ affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

3 Parade, West Cowes:
September 9, 1856 [postmark].

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--Your letter has followed us. We have been in
the south of the island, at Ventnor, with Arabel, and are now in the
north with Mr. Kenyon. We came off from London at a day's notice, the
Wimpole Street people being sent away abruptly (in consequence, plainly,
of our arrival becoming known), and Arabel bringing her praying eyes to
bear on Robert, who agreed to go with her and stay for a fortnight. So
we have had a happy sorrowful two weeks together, between meeting and
parting; and then came here, where our invalid friend called us. Poor
Arabel is in low spirits--very--and _aggrieved_ with being sent away
from town; but the fresh air and _repose_ will do her good, in spite of
herself, though she swears they won't (in the tone of saying they
shan't). She is not by any means strong, and overworks herself in London
with schools and Refuges, and societies--does the work of a horse, and
_isn't_ a horse. Last winter she was quite unwell, as you heard. In
spite of which, I did not think her looking ill when I saw her first;
and now she looks well, I think--quite as well as she ever does. But she
wants a new moral atmosphere--a little society. She is thrown too
entirely on her own resources, and her own resources are of somewhat a
gloomy character. This is all wrong. It has been partly necessary and a
little her fault, at one time. I would give my right hand to take her to
Italy; but if I gave right and left, it would not be found possible. My
father has remained in London, and may not go to Ventnor for the next
week or two, says a letter from Arabel this morning.... The very day he
heard of our being in Devonshire Place he gave orders that his family
should go away. I wrote afterwards, but my letter, as usual, remained
unnoticed.

It has naturally begun to dawn upon my child that I have done something
very wicked to make my father what he is. Once he came up to me
earnestly and said, 'Mama, if you've been very, very naughty--if you've
_broken china_!' (his idea of the heinous in crime)--'I advise you to go
into the room and say, "_Papa, I'll be dood._"' Almost I obeyed the
inspiration--almost I felt inclined to go. But there were
considerations--yes, good reasons--which kept me back, and must continue
to do so. In fact, the position is perfectly hopeless--perfectly.

We find our dear friend Mr. Kenyon better in some respects than we
expected, but I fear in a very precarious state. Our stay is uncertain.
We may go at a moment's notice, or remain if he wishes it; and, my
proofs being sent post by post, we are able to see to them together,
without too much delay. Still, only one-half of the book is done, and
the days come when I shall find no pleasure in them--nothing but
coughing.

George and my brothers were very kind to Robert at Ventnor, and he is
quite touched by it. Also, little Pen made his way into the heart of
'mine untles,' and was carried on their backs up and down hills, and
taught the ways of 'English boys,' with so much success that he makes
pretensions to 'pluck,' and has left a good reputation behind him. On
one occasion he went up to a boy of twelve who took liberties, and
exclaimed, 'Don't be impertinent, sir' (doubling his small fist), 'or I
will show you that _I'm a boy_.' Of course 'mine untles' are charmed
with this 'proper spirit,' and applaud highly. Robert and I begged to
suggest to the hero that the 'boy of twelve' might have killed him if he
had pleased. 'Never mind,' cried little Pen, 'there would have been
somebody to think of _me_, who would have him hanged' (great applause
from the uncles). 'But _you_ would still be dead,' said Robert
remorselessly. 'Well, I don't tare for _that_. It was a beautiful place
to die in--close to the sea.'

So you will please to observe that, in spite of being Italians and
wearing curls, we can fight to the death on occasion....

Write to me, and say how you both are. Robert's love. We both love you.

Very lovingly yours,
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[West Cowes]: September 13, 1856 [postmark].

My dearest Sarianna,--Robert comes suddenly down on me with news that he
is going to write to you, so, though I have been writing letters all the
morning, I must throw in a few words. As to keeping Penini at the sea
longer, he will have been three weeks at the sea to-morrow, and you must
remember how late into the year it is getting--and we with so much work
before us! And if Peni recovered his roses at Ventnor, I recovered my
cough (from the piercing east winds); but I am better since, and last
night slept well. It's far too early for cough, however, in any shape.
We have heaps of business to do in London--heaps--and the book is only
half-done. Still, we are asked to stay here till three days after Madame
Braun's arrival, and it isn't fixed yet when she will arrive; so that I
daresay Peni will have a full month of the sea, after all. Then I have a
design upon Robert's good-nature, of persuading him to _go round by
Taunton_ to London (something like going round the earth to Paris), that
I may see my poor forsaken sister Henrietta, who wants us to give her a
week in her cottage, pathetically bewailing herself that she has no
means for the expense of going to London this time--that she has done it
twice for me, and can't this time (the purse being low); and unless we
go to her, she must do without seeing me, in spite of a separation of
four years. So I am anxious to go, of course.

Robert will have told you of our dear friend here. We began by finding
him much better than we expected, but gradually the sad truth deepens
that he is very ill--oh, it deepens and saddens at once. The face lights
up with the warm, generous heart; then the fire drops, and you see the
embers. The breath is very difficult--it is hard to live. He leans on
the table, saying softly and pathetically 'My God! my God!' Now and then
he desires aloud to pass away and be at rest. I cannot tell you what
his kindness is--his consideration is too affecting; kinder he is than
ever. Miss Bayley is an excellent nurse--at once gentle and
decided--and, if she did but look further than this life and this death,
she would be a perfect companion for him. Peni creeps about like a
mouse; but he goes out, and he isn't over-tired, as he was at Ventnor.
We think he is altogether better in looks and ways.

Your affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


A short visit to Taunton seems to have been made about the end of
September, as anticipated in the last letter, and then, at some time in
the course of October, they set out for Florence. But Mrs. Browning, in
thus quitting England for the last time, left behind her as a legacy the
completed volume of 'Aurora Leigh.' This poem was the realisation of her
early scheme, which goes back at least to the year 1844, of writing a
novel in verse--a novel modern in setting and ideas, and embodying her
own ideals of social and moral progress. And to a large extent she
succeeded. As a vehicle of her opinions, the scheme and style of the
poem proved completely adequate. She moves easily through the story; she
handles her metre with freedom and command; she can say her say without
exaggeration or unnatural strain. Further, the opinions themselves, as
those who have learnt to know her through her letters will feel sure,
are lofty and honourable, and full of a genuine enthusiasm for humanity.
As a novel, 'Aurora Leigh' may be open to the criticism that most of the
characters fail to impress us with a sense of reality and vitality, and
that the hero hardly wins the sympathy from the reader which he is meant
to win. But as a poem it is unquestionably a very remarkable work--not
so full of permanent poetic spirit as the 'Sonnets from the Portuguese,'
not so readily popular as 'The Cry of the Children' or 'Cowper's
Grave'--but a highly characteristic work of one whose character was
made up of pure thoughts and noble ideals, which, in spite of the
inevitable change of manners and social interests with the lapse of
years, will retain into an indefinite future a very considerable
intrinsic value as poetry, and a very high rank among the works of its
author.

At the time of its publication its success was immediate. The subjects
touched on were largely such as always attract interest, because they
are open to much controversy; and the freshness of style and originality
of conception (for almost the only other novel-poem in the language is
'Don Juan,' which can hardly be regarded as of the same type as 'Aurora
Leigh') attracted a multitude of readers. A second edition was required
in a fortnight, a third in a few months--a success which must have
greatly pleased the authoress, who had put her inmost self into her
work, and had laboured hard to leave behind her an adequate
representation of her poetic art.

This natural satisfaction was darkened, however, by the death, on
December 3, of Mr. Kenyon, in whose house the poem had been completed,
and to whom it had been dedicated. Readers of these letters do not
require to be told how near and dear a friend he had been to both Mrs.
Browning and her husband. During his life his friendship had taken the
practical form of allowing them 100_l._ a year, in order that they might
be more free to follow their art for its own sake only, and in his will
he left 6,500_l._ to Robert Browning and 4,500_l._ to Mrs. Browning.
These were the largest legacies in a very generous will--the fitting end
to a life passed in acts of generosity and kindness to those in need.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[Florence. November 1856.]

Robert says he will wait for me till to-morrow, but I leave my other
letters rather and write to you, so sure I am that we oughtn't to put
that off any longer. Dearest Sarianna, I am very much pleased that you
like the poem, having feared a little that you might not. M. Milsand
will _not_, I prophesy; 'seeing as from a tower the end of all.' The
'Athenaeum' is right in supposing that it will be much liked _and_ much
disliked by people in general, although the press is so far astonishing
in its goodwill, and although the extravagance of private letters might
well surprise the warmest of my friends. But, patience! In a little
while we shall have the other side of the question, and the whips will
fall fast after the nosegays. Still, I am surprised, I own, at the
amount of success; and that golden-hearted Robert is in ecstasies about
it--far more than if it all related to a book of his own. The form of
the story, and also something in the philosophy, seem to have caught the
crowd. As to the poetry by itself, anything good in _that_ repels
rather. I am not as blind as Romney, not to perceive this. He had to be
blinded, observe, to be made to see; just as Marian had to be dragged
through the uttermost debasement of circumstances to arrive at the
sentiment of personal dignity. I am sorry, but indeed it seemed
necessary.

You tantalise me with your account of 'warm days.' It is warmer with us
to-day, but we have had snow on all the mountains, and poor Isa has been
half-frozen at her villa. As for me, I have suffered wonderfully
little--no more than discomfort and languor. We have piled up the wood
in this room and the next, and had a perpetual blaze. Not for ten years
has there been in Florence such a November! 'Is this Italy?' says poor
Fanny Haworth's wondering face. Still, she likes Florence better than
she did....

Is it not strange that dear Mr. Kenyon should have lost his brother by
this sudden stroke? Strange and sad?... He was suffering too under a
relapse when the news came--which, Miss Bayley says, did not dangerously
affect him, after all. Oh, sad and strange! I pity the unfortunate wife
more than anyone. She said to me this summer, 'I could not live without
him. Let us hope in God that he and I may die at the same moment.'...

There's much good in dear M. Milsand's idea for us about Paris and the
South of France. Still, I'm rather glad to be quite outside the world
for a little, during these first steps of 'Aurora.' Best love to the
dear Nonno. May God bless you both!

Your ever affectionate
BA.

Oh, the spirits! Hate of Hume and belief in the facts are universal
here.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

[About December 1856.]

My dearest Isa,--Just before your note came I had the pleasure of
burning my own to you yesterday, which was not called for, as I
expected. You would have seen from _that_, that Robert was going to you
of his own accord and mine....

I am rather glad you have not seen the 'Athenaeum'; the analysis it gives
of my poem is so very unfair and partial. You would say the conception
was really _null_. It does not console me at all that I should be
praised and over-praised, the idea given of the poem remaining so
absolutely futile. Even the outside shell of the plan is but half given,
and the double action of the metaphysical intention entirely ignored. I
protest against it. Still, Robert thinks the article not likely to do
harm. Perhaps not. Only one hates to be misrepresented.

So glad I am that Robert was good last night. He told me he had been
defending Swedenborg and the spirits, which suggested to me some notion
of superhuman virtue on his part. Yes; love him. He is my right 'glory';
and the 'lute and harp' would go for nothing beside him, even if
'Athenaeums' spelled one out properly.

Dearest Isa, may God bless you! Let me hear by a word, when Ansuno
passes, how you are. Your loving

E.B.B.

       *       *       *       *       *


The following letter was written almost immediately after the receipt of
the news of Mr. Kenyon's death. Mrs. Kinney, to whom it is addressed,
was the wife of the Hon. William Burnett Kinney, who was United States
Minister at the Court of Sardinia in 1851. After his term of office he
removed to Florence, for the purpose of producing an historical work,
but he did not live to accomplish it. Mrs. Kinney, who was herself a
poet, was also the mother of the well-known American poet and critic,
Mr. E.C. Stedman.[51]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. W.B. Kinney_

Casa Guidi: Friday evening [December 1856].

Your generous sympathy, my dear Mrs. Kinney, would have made me glad
yesterday, if I had not been so very, very sad with some news of the day
before, telling me of the loss of the loved friend to whom that book is
dedicated. So sad I was that I could not lift up my head to write and
express to you how gratefully I felt the recognition of your letter. You
are most generous--overflowingly generous. If I said I wished to deserve
it better, it would be like wishing you less generous; so I won't. I
will only thank you from my heart; _that_ shall be all I shall say.

Affectionately yours always,
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

Florence: December 26, 1856 [postmark].

My ever dear Friend,--To have three letters from you all unanswered
seems really to discredit me to myself, while it gives such proof of
your kindness and affection. No other excuse is to be offered but the
sort of interruption which sadness gives. I really had not the heart to
sit down and talk of my 'Aurora,' even in reference to the pleasure and
honour brought to me by the expression of your opinion, when the beloved
friend associated with the poor book was lost to me in this world, gone
where perhaps he no longer sympathises with pleasure or honour of mine,
now--for nearly the first time. _Perhaps._ After such separations the
sense of _distance_ is the thing felt first. And certainly my book at
least is naturally saddened to me, and the success of it wholesomely
spoiled.

Yet your letter, my dearest Mona Nina, arrived in time to give me great,
great pleasure--true pleasure indeed, and most tenderly do I thank you
for it. I have had many of such letters from persons loved less, and
whose opinions had less weight; and you will like to hear that in a
fortnight after publication Chapman had to go to press with the second
edition. In fact, the kind of reception given to the book has much
surprised me, as I was prepared for an outcry of quite another kind, and
extravagances in a quite opposite sense. This has been left, however, to
the 'Press,' the 'Post,' and the 'Tablet,' who calls 'Aurora' 'a
brazen-faced woman,' and brands the story as a romance in the manner of
Frederic Soulie--in reference, of course, to its gross indecency.

I can't leave this subject without noticing (by the way) what you say of
the likeness to the catastrophe of 'Jane Eyre.' I have sent to the
library here for 'Jane Eyre' (but haven't got it yet) in order to
refresh my memory on this point; but, as far as I do recall the facts,
the hero was monstrously disfigured and blinded in a fire the
particulars of which escape me, and the circumstance of his being
hideously scarred is the thing impressed chiefly on the reader's mind;
certainly it remains innermost in mine. Now if you read over again those
pages of my poem, you will find that the only injury received by Romney
in the fire was from a blow and from the emotion produced by the
_circumstances_ of the fire. Not only did he _not_ lose his eyes in the
fire, but he describes the ruin of his house as no blind man could. He
was standing there, a spectator. Afterwards he had a fever, and the
eyes, the visual nerve, perished, showing no external stain--perished as
Milton's did. I believe that a great shock on the nerves might produce
such an effect in certain constitutions, and the reader on referring as
far back as Marian's letter (when she avoided the marriage) may observe
that his eyes had never been strong, that her desire had been to read
his notes at night, and save them. For it was necessary, I thought, to
the bringing-out of my thought, that Romney should be mulcted in his
natural sight. The 'Examiner' saw that. Tell me if, on looking into the
book again, you modify your feeling at all.

Dearest Mona Nina, you are well now, are you not? Your last dear letter
seems brighter altogether, and seems to promise, too, that quiet in
Italy will restore the tone of your spirits and health. Do you know, I
almost advise you (though it is like speaking against my heart) to go
from Marseilles to Rome straight, and to give us the spring. The spring
is beautiful in Florence; and then I should be free to go and see the
pictures with you, and enjoy you in the in-door and out-of-door way,
both....

You will have heard (we heard it only three days ago) how our kindest
friend, who never forgot us, remembered us in his will. The legacy is
eleven thousand pounds; six thousand five hundred of which are left to
Robert, marking delicately a sense of trust for which I am especially
grateful Of course, this addition to our income will free us from the
pressure which has been upon us hitherto. But oh, how much sadness goes
to making every gain in this world! It has been a sad, sad Christmas to
me. A great gap is left among friends, and the void catches the eyes of
the soul, whichever way it turns. He has been to me in much what my
father might have been, and now the place is empty twice over.

You are yet _unconvinced_. You will be convinced one day, I think. Here
are wide-awake men (some of them most anti-spiritual to this hour, as to
theory) who agree in giving testimony to facts of one order. You shall
hear their testimony when you come. As to the 'supernatural,' if you
mean by that the miraculous, the suspension of natural law, I certainly
believe in it no more than you do. What happens, happens according to a
natural law, the development of which only becomes fuller and more
observable. The movement, such as it is, is accelerated, and the whole
structure of society in America is becoming affected more or less for
good or evil, and very often for evil, through the extreme tenacity or
slowness of those who ought to be leaders in every revolution of
thought, but who, on this subject, are pleased to leave their places to
the unqualified and the fanatical. Wise men will be sorry presently.
When Faraday was asked to go and see Hume, to see a heavy table lifted
without the touch of a finger, he answered that 'he had not time.' Time
has its 'revenges.'

I am very glad that dear Mr. Procter has had some of these last benefits
of one beloved by so many. What a loss, what a loss! Was there no
bequest to yourself? We have heard scarcely anything.

May God bless you, dearest Mona Nina, with the blessing of years old and
new.

Robert's love. Your ever attached

BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

Florence: December 29, 1856.

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--I am very, very sorry. I feel for you to the
bottom of my heart. But she was a pure spirit, leaning out the way God
had marked for her to go, and you had not associated this world too much
with her, as if she could have been meant to stay long in it. Always you
felt that she was about to go--did you not, dear friend?--and so that
she does not stay cannot be an astonishment to you. The pain is the
same; only it can't be the bitter, unnatural pain of certain
separations. Her sweetness has gone to the sweet, her lovely nature to
the lovely; no violence was done to her in carrying her home. May God
enable you to dwell on this till you are satisfied--glad, and not sorry!
That the spirits do not go far, and that they love us still, has grown
to me surer and surer. And yet, how death shakes us!

Yes indeed. I, too, have been very, very sad. This Christmas has come to
me like a cloud. I can scarcely fancy England without that bright face
and sympathetic hand, that princely nature, in which you might put your
trust more reasonably than in princes. These ten years back he has stood
to me almost in my father's place; and now the place is empty--doubly.
Since the birth of my child (seven years since) he has allowed
us--rather, insisted on our accepting (for my husband was loth)--a
hundred a year, and without it we should have often been in hard
straits. His last act was to leave us eleven thousand pounds; and I do
not doubt but that, if he had not known our preference of a simple mode
of life and a freedom from worldly responsibilities (born artists as we
both are), the bequest would have been greater still. As it is, we shall
be relieved from pecuniary pressure, and your affectionateness will be
glad to hear this, but I shall have more comfort from the consideration
of it presently than I can at this instant, when the loss, the empty
chair, the silent voice, the apparently suspended sympathy, must still
keep painfully uppermost.

You will wonder at a paragraph from the 'Athenaeum,' which Robert thought
out of taste until he came to understand the motive of it--that there
had been (two days previous to its appearance) a brutal attack on the
_will_, to the effect that literary persons had been altogether
overlooked in the dispositions of the testator, in consequence of his,
being a disappointed literary pretender himself. Therefore we were
brought forward, you see, together with Barry Cornwall and Dr. Southey,
producing a wrong impression on the other side--only I can't blame the
'Athenaeum' writer for it; nor can anyone, I think. The effect, however,
to ourselves is most uncomfortable, as we are overwhelmed with
'congratulations' on all sides, just as if we had not lost a dear,
tender, faithful friend and relative--just as if, in fact, some stranger
had made us a bequest as a tribute to our poetry. People are so obtuse
in this world--as Robert says, so '_dense_'; as Lord Brougham says, so
'_crass_.'

Whatever may be your liking or disliking of 'Aurora Leigh,' you will
like to hear that it's a great success, and in a way which I the least
expected, for a fortnight after the day of publication it had to go to
press for the second edition. The extravagances written to me about that
book would make you laugh, if you were in a laughing mood; and the
strange thing is that the press, the daily and weekly press, upon which
I calculated for furious abuse, has been, for the most part, furious the
other way. The 'Press' newspaper, the 'Post,' and the 'Tablet' are
exceptions; but for the rest, the 'Athenaeum' is the coldest in praising.
It's a puzzle to me, altogether. I don't know upon what principle the
public likes and dislikes poems. Any way, it is very satisfactory at the
end of a laborious work (for much hard working and hard thinking have
gone to it) to hear it thus recognised, however I must think, with some
bitterness, that the beloved and sympathetic friend to whom it was
dedicated scarcely lived to know what would have given him so much
pleasure as this.

Dearest Mrs. Martin, mind you tell me the truth exactly. I should like
much to have pleased you and Mr. Martin, but I like the truth _best_ of
all from you....

Dearest friends, keep kind thoughts of

Your affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[Florence: January 1857.]

My dearest Sarianna,--A great many happy years to you, and also to the
dear Nonno. I am glad, for my part, to be out of the last, which has
been gloomy and almost embittering to me personally; but we must throw
our burdens behind our backs as far as possible, and be cheerful for the
rest of the road. If Robert alone wrote about 'Aurora,' I won't leave it
to him to be alone grateful to dear M. Milsand for his extraordinary
kindness. Do tell him, with my love, that I could not have expected it,
even from himself--which is saying much. Most thankfully I leave
everything to his discretion and judgment. On this subject I have been,
from the beginning, divided between my strong desire of being translated
and my strong fear of being ill-translated. Harrison Ainsworth's novels
are quite one thing, and a poem of mine quite another. Oh yes! and yet,
so great is my faith in Milsand, that the touch of his hand and the
overseership of his eyes must tranquillise me. I am simply grateful.

Peni has been overwhelmed with gifts this year. I gave him on Christmas
Day (by his own secret inspiration) 'a sword with a blade to dazzle the
eyes'; Robert, a box of tools and carpenter's bench; and we united in a
'Robinson Crusoe,' who was well received. Then from others he had
sleeve-studs, a silver pencil-case, books, &c. According to his own
magniloquent phrase, he was '_exceptionally_ happy.' He has taken to
long words; I heard him talking of '_evidences_' the other day. Poor
little Pen! it's the more funny that he has by no means yet left off
certain of his babyisms of articulation, and the combined effects are
curious. You asked of Ferdinando.[52] Peni's attachment for Ferdinando
is undiminished. Ferdinando can't be found fault with, even in
gentleness, without a burst of tears on Peni's part. Lately I ventured
to ask not to be left quite alone in the house on certain occasions; and
though I spoke quite kindly, there was Peni in tears, assuring me that
we ought to have another servant to open the door, for that 'poor
Ferdinando had a great deal too much work'! When I ventured to demur to
that, the next charge was, 'plainly I did not love Ferdinando as much as
I loved Penini,' which I could not deny; and then with passionate sobs
Peni said that 'I was very unjust indeed.' 'Indeed, indeed, dear mama,
you _are_ unjust! Ferdinando does everything for you, and I do nothing,
except tease you, and even' (sobbing) 'I am sometimes a very naughty
boy.' I had to mop up his tears with my pocket-handkerchief, and excuse
myself as well as I could from the moral imputation of loving Peni
better than Ferdinando.

We have been very glad in a visit from Frederick Tennyson.... God bless
you! Robert won't wait.

Your ever attached
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

Florence: February 2, 1857 [postmark].

My dearest Mona Nina,--To begin (lest I forget before the ending), don't
mind the sugar-tongs, if you have not actually bought them, inasmuch as,
to my astonishment, Wilson has found a pair in Florence, marking the
progress of civilisation in this South. In Paris last winter we sought
in vain. There was nothing between one's fingers and real silver--too
expensive for poets. But now we are supplied splendidly--and at the cost
of five pauls, let me tell you.

Always delighted I am to have your letters, even when you don't tell me
as touchingly as in this that mine are something to you. Do I not indeed
love you and _sympathise_ with you fully and deeply? Yes, indeed. On one
subject I am afraid to touch. But I _know_ why it is you feel so long,
so unduly--so morbidly, in a sense. People in general, knowing
themselves to be innocently made to suffer, would take comfort in
righteous indignation and justified contempt: but to you the indignation
and contempt would be the worst part of suffering; you can't bear it,
and you are in a strait between the two. In fact, it relieves you rather
to take part against yourself, and to conclude on the whole that there's
something really bad in you calling on the pure Heavens for vengeance.
Yes, that's _you_. You sympathise tenderly with your executioner....

And as for the critics--yes, indeed, I agree with you that I have no
reason to complain. More than that, I confess to you that I am entirely
astonished at the amount of reception I have met with--I who expected to
be put in the stocks and pelted with the eggs of the last twenty years'
'singing birds' as a disorderly woman and freethinking poet! People have
been so kind that, in the first place, I really come to modify my
opinions somewhat upon their conventionality, to see the progress made
in freedom of thought. Think of quite decent women taking the part of
the book in a sort of _effervescence_ which I hear of with astonishment.
In fact, there has been an enormous quantity of extravagance talked and
written on the subject, and I _know it_--oh, I know it. I wish I
deserved some things--some things; I wish it were all true. But I see
too distinctly what I _ought_ to have written. Still, it is nearer the
mark than my former efforts--fuller, stronger, more sustained--and one
may be encouraged to push on to something worthier, for I don't feel as
if I had done yet--no indeed. I have had from Leigh Hunt a very pleasant
letter of twenty pages, and I think I told you of the two from John
Ruskin. In America, also, there's great success, and the publisher is
said to have shed tears over the proofs (perhaps in reference to the
hundred pounds he had to pay for them), and the critics congratulate me
on having worked myself clear of all my affectations, mannerisms, and
other morbidities.

Even 'Blackwood' is not to be complained of, seeing that the writer
evidently belongs to an elder school, and judges from his own point of
view. He is wrong, though, even in classical matters, as it seems to
_me_.

I heard one of Thackeray's lectures, the one on George the Third, and
thought it better than good--fine and touching. To what is it that
people are objecting? At any rate, they crowd and pay.

Ah yes. You appreciate Robert; you know what is in his poetry. Certainly
there is no pretension in _me_ towards that profound suggestiveness, and
I thank you for knowing it and saying it.

There is a real _poem_ being lived between Mr. Kirkup and the 'spirits,'
so called.[53] If I were to _write_ it in a poem, I should beat 'Aurora'
over and over. And such a tragic face the old man has, with his bleak
white beard. Even Robert is touched.

Best love from him and your

Ever attached
BA.


       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

Florence: February [1857].

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--I needn't say how much, how very much, pleasure
your letter gave me. That the poem should really have touched you,
reached you, with whatever drawbacks, is a joy. And then that Mr. Martin
should have read it with any sort of interest! It was more than I
counted on, as you know. Thank you, dearest Mrs. Martin--thank both of
you for so much sympathy.

In respect to certain objections, I am quite sure you do me the justice
to believe that I do not willingly give cause for offence. Without going
as far as Robert, who holds that I 'couldn't be coarse if I tried,'
(only that!) you will grant that I don't habitually dabble in the dirt;
it's not the way of my mind or life. If, therefore, I move certain
subjects in this work, it is because my conscience was first moved in me
not to ignore them. What has given most offence in the book, more than
the story of Marian--far more!--has been the reference to the condition
of women in our cities, which a woman oughtn't to refer to, by any
manner of means, says the conventional tradition. Now I have thought
deeply otherwise. If a woman ignores these wrongs, then may women as a
sex continue to suffer them; there is no help for any of us--let us be
dumb and die. I have spoken therefore, and in speaking have used plain
words--words which look like blots, and which you yourself would put
away--words which, if blurred or softened, would imperil perhaps the
force and righteousness of the moral influence. Still, I certainly will,
when the time comes, go over the poem carefully, and see where an
offence can be got rid of without loss otherwise. The second edition was
issued so early that Robert would not let me alter even a comma, would
not let me look between the pages in order to the least alteration. He
said (the truth) that my head was dizzy-blind with the book, and that,
if I changed anything, it would be probably for the worse; like
arranging a room in the dark. Oh no. Indeed he is not vexed that you
should say what you do. On the contrary, he was _pleased_ because of the
much more that you said. As to your friend with the susceptible
'morals'--well, I could not help smiling indeed. I am assured too, by a
friend of my own, that the 'mamas of England' in a body refuse to let
their daughters read it. Still, the daughters emancipate themselves and
_do_, that is certain; for the number of _young_ women, not merely 'the
strong-minded' as a sect, but pretty, affluent, happy women, surrounded
by all the temptations of English respectability, that cover it with the
most extravagant praises is surprising to me, who was not prepared for
that particular kind of welcome. It's true that there's a quantity of
hate to balance the love, only I think it chiefly seems to come from the
less advanced part of society. (See how modest that sounds! But you will
know what I mean.) I mean, from persons whose opinions are not in a
state of growth, and who do not like to be disturbed from a settled
position. Oh, that there are faults in the book, no human being knows so
well as I; defects, weaknesses, great gaps of intelligence. Don't let me
stop to recount them.

The review in 'Blackwood' proves to be by Mr. Aytoun; and coming from
the camp of the enemy (artistically and socially) cannot be considered
other than generous. It is not quite so by the 'North British,' where
another poet (Patmore), who knows more, is somewhat depreciatory, I
can't help feeling.

Now will you be sick of my literature; but you liked to hear, you said.
If you would see, besides, I would show you what George sent me the
other day, a number of the 'National Magazine,' with the most hideous
engraving, from a medallion, you could imagine--the head of a
'strong-minded' giantess on the neck of a bull, and my name underneath!
Penini said, 'It's not a bit like; it's too old, and _not half so
pretty_'--which was comforting under the trying circumstance, if
anything could comfort one in despair....

Your ever most affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[Florence: February 1857.]

My dearest Sarianna,--I am delighted, and so is Robert, that you should
have found what pleases you in the clock. Here is Penini's letter, which
takes up so much room that I must be sparing of mine--and, by the way,
if you consider him improved in his writing, give the praise to Robert,
who has been taking most patient pains with him indeed. You will see how
the little curly head is turned with carnival doings. So gay a carnival
never was in our experience--for until last year (when we were absent)
all masks had been prohibited, and now everybody has eaten of the tree
of good and evil till not an apple was left. Peni persecuted me to let
him have a domino, with tears and embraces; he '_almost never_ in all
his life had had a domino,' and he would like it so. Not a black
domino--no; he hated black--but a blue domino, trimmed with pink! that
was his taste. The pink trimming I coaxed him out of; but for the rest I
let him have his way, darling child; and certainly it answered, as far
as the overflow of joy in his little heart went. Never was such delight.
Morning and evening there he was in the streets, running Wilson out of
breath, and lost sight of every ten minutes. 'Now, Lily, I do _pray_ you
not to call out "Penini! Penini!"' Not to be known was his immense
ambition. Oh, of course he thought of nothing else. As to lessons, there
was an absolute absence of wits. All Florence being turned out into the
streets in one gigantic pantomime, one couldn't expect people to be
wiser indoors than out. For my part, the universal madness reached me
sitting by the fire (whence I had not stirred for three months); and
you will open your eyes when I tell you that I went (in domino and
masked) to the great opera ball. Yes, I did really. Robert, who had been
invited two or three times to other people's boxes, had proposed to
return this kindness by taking a box himself at the opera this night and
entertaining two or three friends with _gallantina_ and champagne. Just
as he and I were lamenting the impossibility of my going, on that very
morning the wind changed, the air grew soft and mild, and he maintained
that I might and should go. There was no time to get a domino of my own
(Robert himself had a beautiful one made, and I am having it
metamorphosed into a black silk gown for myself!), so I sent out and
hired one, buying the mask. And very much amused I was. I like to see
these characteristic things. (I shall never rest, Sarianna, till I risk
my reputation at the Bal de l'Opera at Paris.) Do you think I was
satisfied with staying in the box? No, indeed. Down I went, and Robert
and I elbowed our way through the crowd to the remotest corner of the
ball below. Somebody smote me on the shoulder and cried 'Bella
mascherina!' and I answered as imprudently as one feels under a mask. At
two o'clock in the morning, however, I had to give up and come away
(being overcome by the heavy air), and ingloriously left Robert and our
friends to follow at half-past four. Think of the refinement and
gentleness--yes, I must call it _superiority_--of this people, when no
excess, no quarrelling, no rudeness nor coarseness can be observed in
the course of such wild masked liberty. Not a touch of license anywhere.
And perfect social equality! Ferdinando side by side in the same
ballroom with the Grand Duke, and no class's delicacy offended against!
For the Grand Duke went down into the ballroom for a short time. The
boxes, however, were dear. We were on a third tier, yet paid 2_l._ 5_s._
English, besides entrance money. I think that, generally speaking,
theatrical amusements are cheaper in Paris, in spite of apparent
cheapnesses here. The pit here and stalls are cheap. But 'women in
society' can't go there, it is said; and you must take a whole box, if
you want two seats in a box--which seems to me monstrous. People combine
generally....

Ever affectionate
BA.

I meant to write only a word--and see! May it not be overweight!

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

Florence: April 9 [1857].

Dearest Madonna,--I must not wait, lest I miss you in your transit to
Naples; thank you for your dear letter, then. The weather has burst
suddenly into summer (though it rains a little this morning), and I have
been let out of prison to drive in the Cascine and to Bellosguardo.
Beautiful, beautiful Florence. How beautiful at this time of year! The
trees stand in their 'green mist' as if in a trance of joy. Oh, I do
hope nothing will drive us out of our Paradise this summer, for I seem
to hate the North more 'unnaturally' than ever.

Mrs. Stowe has just arrived, and called here yesterday and this morning,
when Robert took her to see the Salvators at the end of our street. I
like her better than I thought I should--that is, I find more refinement
in her voice and manner--no rampant Americanisms. Very simple and
gentle, with a sweet voice; undesirous of shining or _poser_-ing, so it
seems to me. Never did lioness roar more softly (that is quite certain);
and the temptations of a sudden enormous popularity should be estimated,
in doing her full justice. She is nice-looking, too; and there's
something strong and copious and characteristic in her dusky wavy hair.
For the rest, the brow has not very large capacity; and the mouth wants
something both in frankness and sensitiveness, I should say. But what
can one see in a morning visit? I must wait for another opportunity.
She spends to-morrow evening with us, and talks of remaining in Florence
till the end of next week--so I shall see and hear more. Her books are
not so much to me, I confess, as the fact is, that she above all women
(yes, and men of the age) has moved the world--and _for good_.

I hear that Mrs. Gaskell is coming, whom I am sure to like and love. I
know _that_ by her letters, though I was stupid or idle enough to let
our correspondence go by; and by her books, which I earnestly admire.
How anxious I am to see the life of Charlotte Bronte! But we shall have
to wait for it here.

Dearest friend, you don't mention Madme de Goethe, but I do hope you
will have her with you before long. The good to you will be immense, and
after friendship (and reason) the sun and moon and earth of Italy will
work for you in their places. May God grant to us all that you may be
soon strong enough to throw every burden behind you! The griefs that are
incurable are those which have our own sins festering in them....

On April 6 we had tea out of doors, on the terrace of our friend Miss
Blagden in her villa up [at] Bellosguardo (not exactly Aurora
Leigh's,[54] mind). You seemed to be lifted up above the world in a
divine ecstasy. Oh, what a vision!

Have you read Victor Hugo's 'Contemplations'? We are doing so at last.
As for _me_, my eyes and my heart melted over them--some of the personal
poems are overcoming in their pathos; and nothing more exquisite in
poetry can express deeper pain....

Robert comes back. He says that Mrs. Stowe was very simple and pleasant.
He likes her. So shall I, I think. She has the grace, too, to admire our
Florence.

Your ever affectionate
BA.

I dare say the illustrations will be beautiful. But you are at work on a
new book, are you not?

       *       *       *       *       *


The mention of the 'Contemplations' of Victor Hugo in the preceding
letter supplies a clue to the date of the following draft of an appeal
to the Emperor Napoleon on behalf of the poet, which has been found
among Mrs. Browning's papers. An endorsement on the letter says that it
was not sent, but it is none the less worthy of being printed.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To the Emperor Napoleon_

[April 1857.]

Sire,--I am only a woman, and have no claim on your Majesty's attention
except that of the weakest on the strongest. Probably my very name as
the wife of an English poet, and as named itself a little among English
poets, is unknown to your Majesty. I never approached my own sovereign
with a petition, nor am skilled in the way of addressing kings. Yet
having, through a studious and thoughtful life, grown used to great men
(among the dead, at least), I cannot feel entirely at a loss in speaking
to the Emperor Napoleon.

And I beseech you to have patience with me while I supplicate you. It is
not for myself nor for mine.

I have been reading with wet eyes and a swelling heart (as many who love
and some who hate your Majesty have lately done) a book called the
'Contemplations' of a man who has sinned deeply against you in certain
of his political writings, and who expiates rash phrases and
unjustifiable statements in exile in Jersey. I have no personal
knowledge of this man; I never saw his face; and certainly I do not come
now to make his apology. It is, indeed, precisely because he cannot be
excused that, I think, he might worthily be forgiven. For this man,
whatever else he is not, is a great poet of France, and the Emperor, who
is the guardian of her other glories, should remember him and not leave
him out. Ah, sire, what was written on 'Napoleon le Petit' does not
touch your Majesty; but what touches you is, that no historian of the
age should have to write hereafter, 'While Napoleon III. reigned, Victor
Hugo lived in exile.' What touches you is, that when your people count
gratefully the men of commerce, arms, and science secured by you to
France, no voice shall murmur, 'But where is our poet?' What touches you
is, that, however statesmen and politicians may justify his exclusion,
it may draw no sigh from men of sentiment and impulse, yes, and from
women like myself. What touches you is, that when your own beloved young
prince shall come to read these poems (and when you wish him a princely
nature, you wish, sire, that such things should move him), he may exult
to recall that his imperial father was great enough to overcome this
great poet with magnanimity.

Ah, sire, you are great enough! You can allow for the peculiarity of the
poetical temperament, for the temptations of high gifts, for the fever
in which poets are apt to rage and suffer beyond the measure of other
men. You can consider that when they hate most causelessly there is a
divine love in them somewhere; and that when they see most falsely they
are loyal to some ideal light. Forgive this enemy, this accuser, this
traducer. Disprove him by your generosity. Let no tear of an admirer of
his poetry drop upon your purple. Make an exception of him, as God made
an exception of him when He gave him genius, and call him back _without
condition_ to his country and his daughter's grave.

I have written these words without the knowledge of any. Naturally I
should have preferred, as a woman, to have addressed them through the
mediation of the tender-hearted Empress Eugenie; but, a wife myself, I
felt it would be harder for her Majesty to pardon an offence against the
Emperor Napoleon, than it could be for the Emperor.

And I am driven by an irresistible impulse to your Majesty's feet to ask
this grace. It is a woman's voice, sire, which dares to utter what many
yearn for in silence. I have believed in Napoleon III. Passionately
loving the democracy, I have understood from the beginning that it was
to be served throughout Europe in you and by you. I have trusted you for
doing greatly. I will trust you, besides, for pardoning nobly. You will
be Napoleon in this also.

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

[Illustration]

       *       *       *       *       *


Shortly after this date, on April 17, Mrs. Browning's father died. In
the course of the previous summer an attempt made by a relative to bring
about a reconciliation between him and his daughters was met with the
answer that they had 'disgraced his family;' and, although he professed
to have 'forgiven' them, he refused all intercourse, removed his family
out of town when the Brownings came thither, and declined to give his
daughter Henrietta's address to Mr. Kenyon's executor, who was
instructed to pay her a small legacy. A further attempt at
reconciliation was made by Mrs. Martin only a few months before his
death, but had no better success. His pride stood in the way of his
forgiveness to the end.

On receiving the news of his death, the following letter was written by
Robert Browning to Mrs. Martin; but it was not until two months later
that Mrs. Browning was able to bring herself to write to anyone outside
her own family.

       *       *       *       *       *


_Robert Browning to Mrs. Martin_

Florence: May 3, 1857.

My dear Mrs. Martin,--Truest thanks for your letter. We had the
intelligence from George last Thursday week, having been only prepared
for the illness by a note received from Arabel the day before. Ba was
sadly affected at first; miserable to see and hear. After a few days
tears came to her relief. She is now very weak and prostrated, but
improving in strength of body and mind: I have no fear for the result. I
suppose you know, at least, the very little that we know; and how
unaware poor Mr. Barrett was of his imminent death: 'he bade them,' says
Arabel, 'make him comfortable for the night, but a moment before the
last.' And he had dismissed her and her aunt about an hour before, with
a cheerful or careless word about 'wishing them good night.' So it is
all over now, all hope of better things, or a kind answer to entreaties
such as I have seen Ba write in the bitterness of her heart. There must
have been something in the organisation, or education, at least, that
would account for and extenuate all this; but it has caused grief
enough, I know; and now here is a new grief not likely to subside very
soon. Not that Ba is other than reasonable and just to herself in the
matter: she does not reproach herself at all; it is all mere grief, as I
say, that this should have been _so_; and I sympathise with her there.

George wrote very affectionately to tell me; and dear, admirable Arabel
sent a note the very next day to prove to Ba that there was nothing to
fear on her account. Since then we have heard nothing. The funeral was
to take place in Herefordshire. We had just made up our minds to go on
no account to England this year. Ba felt the restraint on her too
horrible to bear. I will, or she will, no doubt, write and tell you of
herself; and you must write, dear Mrs. Martin, will you not?

Kindest regard to Mr. Martin and all.

Yours faithfully ever,
ROBERT BROWNING.

       *       *       *       *       *


_E.B. Browning to Mrs. Martin_

Florence: July 1, [1857].

Thank you, thank you from my heart, my dearest friend--this poor heart,
which has been so torn and mangled,--for your dear, tender sympathy,
whether expressed in silence or in words. Of the past I cannot speak.
You understand, yes, you understand. And when I say that you understand
(and feel that you do), it is an expression of belief in the largeness
of your power of understanding, seeing that few _can_ understand--few
can. There has been great bitterness--great bitterness, which is
natural; and some recoil against myself, more, perhaps, than is quite
rational. Now I am much better, calm, and not despondingly calm (as,
off and on, I have been), able to read and talk, and keep from vexing my
poor husband, who has been a good deal tried in all these things.
Through these three months you and what you told me touched me with a
thought of comfort--came the nearest to me of all. May God bless you and
return it to you a hundredfold, dear dear friend!

I believe _hope_ had died in me long ago of reconciliation in this
world. Strange, that what I called 'unkindness' for so many years, in
departing should have left to me such a sudden desolation! And yet, it
is not strange, perhaps.

No, I cannot write any more. You will understand....

We shall be in Paris next summer. This year we remain quietly where we
are. Presently we may creep to the seaside or into the mountains to
avoid the great heats, but no further. My temptation is to lie on the
sofa, and never stir nor speak, only I don't give up, be certain. I
drive out for two or three hours on most days, and I hear Peni's
lessons, and am good and obedient. If I could get into hard regular work
of some kind, it would be excellent for me, I know; but the 'flesh is
weak.' Oh, no, to have gone to England this summer would have _helped
nobody_, and would have been very overcoming to _me_. I was not fit for
it, indeed, and Robert was averse on his own account....

May God bless you both, dearest friends. My little Penini is bright and
well. I have begun to teach him German. I do hope you won't fatigue
yourselves too much at Colwall. Enjoy the summer and the roses, and be
well, be well. We shall meet next year....

Once more, goodbye.

Your ever affectionate and grateful
BA.

Robert's love as ever.

This is the first letter I have written to anyone out of my own family.
I hate writing, and can't help being stupid.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

Florence: [about July 1857].

I write soon, you see, dearest Fanny. I thank you for all, but I do
beseech you, _dear_, not to say a word more to me of what is said of me.
The truth is, I am made of paper, and it tears me. Do not, dear. Make no
reference to things personal to myself. As far as I could read and
understand, it was absurd, perfectly _ungenuine_. I shall say nothing to
anybody. I have torn that sheet. Do not refer to the subject to Isa
Blagden. And there--I have done.

No--I thank you; and I know it was your kindness entirely. Will you, if
you love me, _not_ touch on the subject (I mean on the personal thing to
myself) in your next letters, not even by saying that you were sorry you
did once touch on them. I know how foolish and morbid I must seem to
you. So I am made, and I can't help my idiosyncrasies.

Now don't mistake me. Tell me all about the spirits, only not about what
they say of _me_. I am very interested. The drawback is, that without
any sort of doubt they _personate falsely_.

We are seething in the heat. The last three days have been a composition
of Gehenna and Paradise. It is a perpetual steam bath. Yet Robert and I
have not finished our plans for escaping. Mrs. Jameson is here still,
recovering her health and spirits. The Villa hospitality goes on as
usual, and the evening before last we had tea on the terrace by a divine
sunset, with a favoring breath or two. Only even there we wished for
Lazarus's finger.

Certainly Florence will not be bearable many days longer. Write to me
though, at Florence as usual....

It is said that Hume, who is back again in Paris and under the shadow of
the Emperor's wing, has been the means of an extraordinary
manifestation, two spiritual figures, male and female, who were
_recognised_ by their friends. Five or six persons (including the
medium) fainted away at this apparition. It happened in Paris, lately.

Yes, I mistrust the mediums less than I do the spirits who write. Tell
me....

Write and tell me everything _with exceptions_ such as I have set down.
And forgive my poor brittle body, which shakes and breaks. May God love
you, dear.

Yours in true affection,
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


At the end of July, Florence had become unbearable, and the Brownings
removed, for the third time, to the Bagni di Lucca, whither they were
followed by some of their friends, notably Miss Blagden and Mr. Robert
Lytton. Unfortunately, their holiday was marred by the dangerous illness
of Lytton, which not only kept them in great anxiety for a considerable
time, but also entailed much labour in nursing on Mr. Browning and Miss
Blagden. Besides Mrs. Browning's letters, a letter from her husband to
his sister is given below, containing an account of the earlier stages
of the illness.

       *       *       *       *       *


_Robert Browning to Miss Browning_

Bagni di Lucca: August 18, [1857].

Dearest,--We arrived here on the 30th last, and two or three days after
were followed by Miss Blagden, Miss Bracken, and Lytton--all for our
sake: they not otherwise wanting to come this way. Lytton arrived
unwell, got worse soon, and last Friday week was laid up with a sort of
nervous fever, caused by exposure to the sun, or something, acting on
his nervous frame: since then he has been very ill in bed--doctor,
anxiety &c. as you may suppose: they are exactly opposite us, at twelve
or fifteen feet distance only. Through sentimentality and economy
combined, Isa would have no nurse (an imbecile arrangement), and all has
been done by her, with me to help: I have sate up four nights out of the
last five, and sometimes been there nearly all day beside....[55] He is
much better to-day, taken broth, and will, I hope, have no relapse, poor
fellow: imagine what a pleasant holiday we all have! Otherwise the place
is very beautiful, and cool exceedingly. We have done nothing notable
yet, but all are very well, Peni particularly so: as for me, I bathe in
the river, a rapid little mountain stream, every morning at 6-1/2, and
find such good from the practice that I shall continue it, and whatever
I can get as like it as possible, to the end of my days, I hope: the
strength of all sorts therefrom accruing is wonderful: I thought the
shower baths perfection, but this is far above it.... I was so rejoiced
to hear from you, and think you so wise in staying another month. I sent
the 'Ath.' to 151 R. de G. Kindest love to papa: we can't get news from
England, but the Americans have paid up the rest of the money for
'Aurora:' by the by, in this new book of Ruskin's, the drawing book,[56]
he says '"Aurora Leigh" is the finest poem written in any language this
century.' There is a review of it, which I have not yet got, in the
'Rivista di Firenze' of this month. God bless you. I will write very
soon again. Do you write at once. Ba will add a word. How fortunate
about the books! How is Milsand? Pray always remember my best love to
him.

       *       *       *       *       *


_E.B. Browning to Miss Browning_

[Same date.]

My dearest Sarianna,--Robert will have told you, I dare say, what a
heavy time we have had here with poor Lytton. It was imprudent of him
to come to Florence at the hottest of the year, and to expose himself
perfectly unacclimated; and the chance by which he was removed here just
in time to be nursed was happy for him and all of us. We have had great
heat in the days even here, of course--no blotting out, even by
mountains, of the Italian sun; but the cool nights extenuate very
much--refresh and heal. Now I do hope the corner is turned of the
illness. Isa Blagden has been devoted, sitting up night after night, and
Robert has sate up four nights that she might not really die at her
post. There is nothing _infectious_ in the fever, so don't be afraid.
Robert is quite well, with good appetite and good spirits, and Peni is
like a rose possessed by a fairy. They both bathe in the river, and
profit (as I am so glad you do). Not that it's a real river, though it
has a name, the _Lima_. A mere mountain stream, which curls itself up
into holes in the rocks to admit of bathing. Then, as far as they have
been able on account of Lytton, they have had riding on donkeys and
mountain ponies, Peni as bold as a lion.

[_The last words of the letter, with the signature, have been cut off_]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

La Villa, Bagni di Lucca: August 22, [1857].

As you bid me write, my dear friend, about Lytton, I write, but I grieve
to say we are still very uneasy about him. For sixteen days he has been
prostrate with this gastric fever, and the disease is not baffled,
though the pulse is not high nor the head at all affected. Dr. Trotman,
however, is uncheerful about him--is what medical men call '_cautious_'
in giving an opinion, observing that, though _at present_ he is not in
danger, the delicacy of his constitution gives room for great
apprehension in the case of the least turning towards relapse. Robert
had been up with him during eight nights, and Isa Blagden eight nights.
Nothing can exceed her devotion to him by night or day. We have
persuaded her, however, at last to call in a nurse for the nights. I am
afraid for Robert, and in fact a trained nurse can do certain things
better than the most zealous and tender friend can pretend to do. You
may suppose how saddened we all are. Dear Lytton! At intervals he talks
and can hear reading, but this morning he is lower again. In fact, from
the first he has been very apprehensive about himself--inclined to talk
of divine things, of the state of his soul and God's love, and to hold
this life but slackly.

I feel I am writing a horrible account to you. You will conclude the
worst from it, and that is what I don't want you to do. The pulse has
never been high, and is now much lower, and if he can be kept from a
relapse he will live. I pray God he may live. He is not altered in the
face, and Dr. Trotman reiterated this morning, 'There _is no_ danger at
present.'

You are better. I thank God for it. Oh, yes, it is very beautiful, that
cathedral. The weather here is cool and enjoyable by day even. At nights
it is really cold, and I _have_ thought of a blanket once or twice as of
a thing tolerable. I will write again when there is a change. The course
of the fever may extend to six days more.

Your ever most affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

Thursday, [end of August 1857].

Dearest Friend,--I think it better to inclose to you this letter which
has come to your address. Thank you for your kind words about Lytton,
which will be very soothing to him. He continues better, and is
preparing to take his first drive to-day, for half an hour, with his
_nurse_ and Robert. See how weak he must be, and the hollow cheeks and
temples remain as signs of the past. Still, he is convalescent, and
begins to think of poems and apple puddings in a manner other than
celestial. I do thank God that our anxieties have ended so.

Robert bathes in the river every morning, which does him great good;
besides the rides at mornings and evenings on mountain ponies with
Annette Bracken and a Crimean hero (as Mrs. Stisted has it), who has
turned up at the hotel, with one leg and so many agreeable and amiable
qualities that everybody is charmed with him.

Robert had a letter from Chapman yesterday. Not much news. He speaks of
two penny papers, sold lately, after making the fortune of their
proprietors, for twenty-five and thirty-five thousand pounds. If Robert
'could but write bad enough,' says the learned publisher, he should
recommend one of them. But even Charles Reade was found too good, and
the sale fell ten thousand in a few weeks on account of a serial tale of
his, so he had to make place to his _worses_. Chapman hears of a
'comprehensive review' being about to appear in the 'Westminster' on
'Aurora,' whether for or against he cannot tell. The third edition sells
well.

So happy I am to hear that Mr. Procter's son is safe. We saw his name in
the 'Galignani,' and were alarmed. Lytton has heard from Forster, but I
had no English news from the letter. I get letters from my sisters which
make me feel '_froissee_' all over, except that they seem pretty well.
My eldest brother has returned from Jamaica, and has taken a place with
a Welsh name on the Welsh borders for three years--what I knew he would
do. He wrote me some tender words, dear fellow....

May God bless you!

Yours in much love, BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

La Villa, Bagni di Lucca:
September 14, 1857 [postmark].

My dearest Fanny,--A letter from me will have crossed yours and told you
of all our misadventures. It has been a summer to me full of blots,
vexations, anxieties; and if, in spite of everything, I am physically
stronger for the fresh air and smell of green leaves, that's a proof
that soul and body are two.

Our friends of the hotel went away last Saturday, and I have a letter
from Isa Blagden with a good account of Lytton. He goes back to Villa
Bricchieri, where they are to house together, unless Sir Edward comes
down (which he may do) to catch up his son and change the plan. Isa has
not quite killed herself with nursing him, a little of her being still
left to express what has been.

Now, dear Fanny, I am going to try to tell you of _our_ plans. No,
'plans' is not the word; our thoughts are in the purely elemental state
so far. But we _think_ of going to Rome (or Naples) at the far end of
November, and of staying here as many days deep into October meanwhile
as the cold mountain air will let us. On leaving this place we go to
Florence and wait. Unless, indeed (which is possible too), we go to
Egypt and the Holy Land, in which case we shall not remain where we are
beyond the end of September....

I never could consent to receive my theology or any other species of
guidance, in fact--from the 'spirits,' so called. I have no more
confidence, apart from my own conscience and discretionary selection, in
spirits out of the body than in those embodied. The submission of the
whole mind and judgment carries you in either case to the pope--or to
the devil. So _I_ think. Don't let them bind you hand and foot. Resist.
Be yourself. Also where (as in the medium-writing) you have the human
mixture to evolve the spiritual sentiment from, the insecurity becomes
doubly insecure....

Your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


The end of the time at the Bagni di Lucca was clouded by another
anxiety, caused by the illness of Penini. It was not, however, a long
one, and early in October the whole party was able to return to
Florence, where they remained throughout the winter and the following
spring. Letters of this period are, however, scarce, and there is
nothing particular to record concerning it. Since the publication of
'Aurora Leigh,' Mrs. Browning had been taking a holiday from poetical
composition; indeed she never resumed it on a large scale, and published
no other volume save the 'Poems before Congress,' which were the fruit
of a later period of special excitement. She had put her whole self into
'Aurora Leigh,' and seemed to have no further message to give to
mankind. It is evident, too, that her strength was already beginning to
decline and the various family and public anxieties which followed 1856
made demands on what remained of it too great to allow of much
application to poetry.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

[Bagni di Lucca:] Monday, September 28, [1857].

You will understand too well why I have waited some days before
answering your letter, dearest Fanny, though you bade me write at once,
when I tell you that my own precious Penini has been ill with gastric
fever and is even now confined to his bed. Eleven days ago, when he was
looking like a live rose and in an exaggeration of spirits, he proposed
to go with me, to run by my portantina in which I went to pay a visit
some mile and a half away. The portantini men walked too fast for him,
and he was tired and heated. Then, while I paid my visit, he played by
the river with a child of the house, and returned with me in the dusk.
He complained of being tired during the return, and I took him up into
my portantina for ten minutes. He was over-tired, however, over-heated,
over-chilled, and the next day had fever and complained of his head. We
did not think much of it; and the morning after he seemed so recovered
that we took him with us to dine in the mountains with some American
friends (the Eckleys--did you hear of them in Rome?)--twenty miles in
the carriage, and ten miles on donkey-back. He was in high spirits, and
came home at night singing at the top of his voice--probably to keep off
the creeping sense of illness, for he has confessed since that he felt
unwell even then. The next day the fever set in. The medical man doubted
whether it was measles, scarlatina, or what; but soon the symptoms took
the decisive aspect. He has been in bed, strictly confined to bed, since
last Sunday-week night--strictly confined, except for one four hours,
after which exertion he had a relapse. It is the same fever as Mr.
Lytton's, only not as severe, I thank God; the attacks coming on at
nights chiefly, and terrifying us, as you may suppose. The child's
sweetness and goodness, too, his patience and gentleness, have been very
trying. He said to me, 'You pet! don't be unhappy for _me_. Think it's a
poor little boy in the street, and be just only a little sorry, and not
unhappy at all.' Well, we may thank God that the bad time seems passed.
He is still in bed, but it is a matter of precaution chiefly. The fever
is quite in abeyance--has been for two days, and we have all to be
grateful for two most tranquil nights. He amuses himself in putting maps
together, and cutting out paper, and packing up his desk to _go to
Florence_, which is the _idee fixe_ just now. In fact when he can be
moved we shall not wait here a day, for the rains have set in, and the
dry elastic air of Florence will be excellent for him. The medical man
(an Italian) promises us almost that we may be able to go in a week
from this time; but we won't hurry, we will run no risks. For some days
he has been allowed no other sort of nourishment but ten
dessert-spoonfuls of thin broth twice a day--literally nothing; not a
morsel of bread, not a drop of tea, nothing. Even now the only change
is, a few more spoonfuls of the same broth. It is hard, for his appetite
cries out aloud; and he has agonising visions of beefsteak pies and
buttered toast seen in _mirage_. Still his spirits don't fail on the
whole and now that the fever is all but gone, they rise, till we have to
beg him to be quiet and not to talk so much. He had the flower-girl in
by his bedside yesterday, and it was quite impossible to help laughing,
so many Florentine airs did he show off. 'Per Bacco, ho una fame
terribile, e non voglio aver piu pazienza con questo Dottore.' The
doctor, however, seems skilful....

But you may think how worn out I have been in body and soul, and how
under these circumstances we think little of Jerusalem or of any other
place but our home at Florence. Still, we shall probably pass the winter
either at Rome or Naples, but I know no more than a swaddled baby which.
Also we _shan't_ know, probably, till the end of November, when we take
out our passports. Doubt is our element....

I must go to my Peni. I am almost happy about him now. And yet--oh, his
lovely rosy cheeks, his round fat little shoulders, his strength and
spring of a month ago!--at the best, we must lose our joy and pride in
these for a time. May God bless you! I know you will feel for me, and
that makes me so egotistical.

Your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[Florence: February 1858.]

My dearest Sarianna,--Robert is going to write to dear M. Milsand, whose
goodness is 'passing that of men,' of all common friends certainly.
Robert's thanks are worth more than mine, and so I shall leave it to
Robert to thank him.

The 'grippe' has gripped us here most universally, and no wonder,
considering our most exceptional weather; and better the grippe than the
fever which preceded it. Such cold has not been known here for years,
and it has extended throughout the south, it seems, to Rome and Naples,
where people are snowed and frozen up. So strange. The Arno, for the
first time since '47, has had a slice or two of ice on it. Robert has
suffered from the prevailing malady, which did not however, through the
precautions we took, touch his throat or chest, amounting only to a bad
cold in the head. Peni was afflicted in the same way but in a much
slighter degree, and both are now quite well. As for me I have caught no
cold--only losing my breath and my soul in the usual way, the cough not
being much. So that we have no claim, any of us, on your compassion, you
see....

I think, I think Miss Blackwell has succeeded in frightening you a
little. In the case of _chaos_, she will fly to England, I suppose; and
even there she may fall on a refugee plot; for I have seen a letter of
Mazzini's in which it was written that people stood on ruins in England,
and that at any moment there might be a crash! Certainly, confusion in
Paris would be followed by confusion in Italy and everywhere on the
Continent at least, so I should never think of running away, let what
might happen. In '52 and '53, when we were in Paris, there was more
danger than _could_ arise now, under a successful plot even; for, even
if the Emperor fell, the people and the army seem prepared to stand by
the dynasty. Also, public order has attained to some of the force of an
habitual thing.

As to the crime,[57] it has no more sympathy here than in France--be
sure of that. That unscrupulous bad party is repudiated by this
majority--by this people as a mass. I hear nothing but lamentations
that Italians should be dishonored so by their own hands. Father Prout
says that the Emperor's speech is 'the most heroic document of this
century,' and in my mind the praise is merited. So indignant I feel with
Mazzini and all who name his name and walk in his steps, that I couldn't
find it in my heart to write (as I was going to do) to that poor
bewitched Jessie on her marriage. Really, when I looked at the pen, I
_couldn't move it_....

Best love from
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

Florence: March 27 [1858]

This moment I take up my pen to write to you, my dearest Mrs. Martin.
Did you not receive a long letter I wrote to you in Paris? No? Answer me
categorically....

And you are not very strong, even now? That grieves me. But here is the
sun to make us all strong. For my part, my chest has not been
particularly wrong this winter, nor my cough too troublesome. But the
weight of the whole year heavy with various kinds of trouble, added to a
trying winter, seems to have stamped out of me the vital fluid, and I am
physically low, to a degree which makes me glad of renewed opportunities
of getting the air; and I mean to do little but drive out for some time.
It does not answer to be mastered so. For months I have done nothing but
dream and read French and German romances; and the result (of learning a
good deal of German) isn't the most useful thing in the world one can
attain to. Then, of course, I teach Peni for an hour or so. He reads
German, French, and, of course, Italian, and plays on the piano
remarkably well, for which Robert deserves the chief credit. A very
gentle, sweet child he is; sweet to look at and listen to; affectionate
and good to live with, a real 'treasure' so far. His passion is music;
and as we are afraid of wearing his brain, we let him give most of his
study-time to the piano.

So you want me, you expect me, I suppose, to approve of the miserable,
undignified, unconscientious doings in England on the conspiracy
question?[58] No, indeed. I would rather we had lost ten battles than
stultified ourselves in the House of Commons with Brummagem brag and
Derby intrigues before the eyes of Europe and America. It seems to me
utterly pitiful. I hold that the most susceptible of nations should not
reasonably have been irritated by the Walewski despatch, which was
absolutely true in its statement of facts. Ah, dearest friend, _how_
true I know better than you do; for I know of knowledge how this
doctrine of assassination is held by chief refugees and communicated to
their disciples in England--yes, to noble hearts, and to English hands
still innocent--my very soul has bled over these things. With my own
ears I have heard them justified. For nights I have been disturbed in my
sleep with the thoughts of them. In the name of liberty, which I love,
and of the Democracy, which I honour, I protest against them. And if
such things can be put down, I hold they should be put down; and that
the Conspiracy Bill is the smallest and lightest step that can be taken
towards the putting down. For the rest, the great Derby intrigue, as
shown in its acts, and as resulting in its State papers, nothing in
history, it seems to me, was ever so small and mean.

What I think of _him_? Why, I think he is the only great man of his age,
speaking of public men. I think 'Napoleon III devant le peuple anglais'
a magnificent State paper. I confess to you it drew the tears to my eyes
as I read it. So grand, so calm, so simply true!

And now with regard to Switzerland. You must remember that there is such
a thing as an international law, and that only last year the Swiss
appealed in virtue of it to France about the Neufchatel refugees, and
that France received and acted on that appeal. The very translation of
the French despatch adds to the injustice done to it in England; because
'_insister_' does not mean to 'insist upon a thing being done,' but to
'urge it upon one's attention.'

'The Times,' 'The Times.' Why, 'The Times' has intellect, but no
conscience. 'The Times' is the most immoral of journals, as well as the
most able. 'The Times,' on this very question of the Conspiracy Bill,
has swerved, and veered, and dodged, till its readers may well be dizzy
if they read every paragraph every day.

See how I fall into a fury. 'Oh, Liberty! I would cry, like the woman
who did not love liberty more than I do--'Oh, Liberty, what deeds are
done in thy name!' and (looking round Italy) what sorrows are suffered!

For I do fear that Mazzini is at the root of the evil; that man of
unscrupulous theory!

Now you will be enough disgusted with me. Tell me that you and dear Mr.
Martin forgive me. I never saw Orsini, but have heard and known much of
him. Unfortunate man. He died better than he lived--it is all one can
say. Surely you admit that the permission to read that letter on the
trial was large-hearted. And it has vexed Austria to the last degree, I
am happy to say. It was not allowed to be read here, by the Italian
public, I mean.

Our plans are perfectly undefined, but we do hope to escape England....
Robert talks of Egypt for the winter. I don't know what may happen; and
in the meantime would rather not be pulled and pulled by kind people in
England, who want me or fancy they do. You know everybody is as free as
I am now, and freer; and if they do want me, and it isn't fancy--never
mind! We may see you perhaps, in Paris, after all, this summer....

Now let me tell you. Hume, my _protege_ prophet, is in Italy. Think of
that. He was in Pisa and in Florence for a day, saw friends of his and
acquaintances of ours with whom he stayed four months on the last
occasion, and who implicitly believe in him. An Englishwoman, who from
infidel opinions was converted by his instrumentality to a belief in the
life after death, has died in Paris, and left him an annuity of L240,
English. On coming here, he paid all his wandering debts, I am glad to
hear, and is even said to have returned certain _gifts_ which had been
rendered unacceptable to him from the bad opinion of the givers. I hear,
too, that his manners, as well as morals, are wonderfully improved. He
is gone to Rome, and will return here to pay a visit to his friends in
Florence after a time. The object of his coming was health. While he
passed through Tuscany, the _power_ seemed to be leaving him, but he has
recovered it tenfold, says my informant, so I hope we shall hear of more
wonders. Did you read the article in the 'Westminster'? The subject _se
prete au ridicule_, but ridicule is not disproof. The Empress Eugenie
protects his little sister, and has her educated in Paris.

Surely I have made up for silence. Dearest friends, both of you, may God
bless you!

Your affectionate
BA.

Robert's love and Peni's.

       *       *       *       *       *


In the summer of 1858 an expedition was made to France, in order to
visit Mr. Browning's father and sister; but no attempt was made to
extend the journey into England. In fact, the circle of their flights
from Florence was becoming smaller; and as 1856 saw Mrs. Browning's last
visit to England, so 1858 saw her last visit to France, or, indeed,
beyond the borders of Italy at all. It was only a short visit, too,--not
longer than the usual expeditions into the mountains to escape the
summer heat of Florence. In the beginning of July they reached Paris,
where they stayed at the Hotel Hyacinthe, rue St. Honore, for about a
fortnight, before going on to Havre in company with old Mr. Browning and
Miss Browning. There they remained until September, when they returned
to Paris for about a month, and thence, early in October, set out for
Italy.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

Hotel Hyacinthe, St. Honore:
Wednesday and Thursday, July 8, 1858 [postmark].

My dearest Fanny,--The scene changes. No more cypresses, no more
fireflies, no more dreaming repose on burning hot evenings. Push out the
churches, push in the boulevards. Here I am, sitting alone at this
moment, in an hotel near the Tuileries, where we have taken an apartment
for a week, a pretty salon, with the complement of velvet sofas, and
arm-chairs, and looking-glasses, and bedrooms to correspond, with clocks
at distances of three yards, as if the time was in desperate danger of
forgetting itself--which it is, of course. Paris looks more splendid
than ever, and we were not too much out of breath with fatigue, on our
arrival last night, to admit of various cries of admiration from all of
us. It is a wonderfully beautiful city; and wonderfully cold considering
the climate we came from. Think of our finding ourselves forced into
winter suits, and looking wistfully at the grate. I did so this morning.
But now there is sunshine.

We had a prosperous journey, except the sea voyage which prostrated all
of us--_Annunziata_, to 'the lowest deep' of misery. At Marseilles we
slept, and again at Lyons and Dijon, taking express trains the whole
way, so that there was as little fatigue as possible; and what with the
reviving change of air and these precautions, I felt less tired
throughout the journey than I have sometimes felt at Florence after a
long drive and much talking. We had scarcely any companions in the
carriages, and were able to stretch to the full longitude of us--a
comfort always; and I had 'Madame Ancelot,' and 'Doit et Avoir,' which
dropped into my bag from Isa's kind fingers on the last evening, and we
gathered 'Galignanis' and 'Illustrations' day by day. Travelling has
really become a luxury. I feel the _repose_ of it chiefly. Yes, no
possibility of unpleasant visitors! no fear of horrible letters! quite
lifted above the plane of bad news, or of the expectation of bad news,
which is nearly the same thing. There you are, shut in, in a carriage!
Quite out of reach of the telegraph even, which you mock at as you run
alongside the wires.

Yes, but some visitors, some faces, and voices are missed. And
altogether I was very sad at leaving my Italy, oh, very sad!...

Tell me how you like 'up in the villa' life, and how long you shall bear
it.

Paris! I have not been out of the house, except when I came into it. But
to-day, Thursday, I mean to drive out a little with Robert. You know I
have a _weakness_ for Paris, and a _passion_ for Italy; which would
operate thus, perhaps, that I could easily stay here when once here, if
there was but a sun to stay with me. We are in admiration, all of us, at
everything, from cutlets to costumes. On the latter point I shall give
myself great airs over you barbarians presently--no offence to
Zerlinda--and, to begin, pray draw your bonnets more over your faces.

I would rather send this bit than wait, as I did not write to you from
Marseilles.

May God bless you! If you knew how happy I think you for being in
Italy--if you knew.

I shiver with the cold. I tie up three loves to send you from

Your truly affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

Hotel Hyacinthe, St. Honore, Paris:
Thursday [July 8, 1858].

My dearest dear Isa,--We are here, having lost nothing--neither a carpet
bag nor a bit of our true love for you. We arrived the evening before
last, and this letter should have been written yesterday if I hadn't
been interrupted. Such a pleasant journey we had, after the curse of the
sea! ('_Where there shall be no more sea_' beautifies the thought of
heaven to me. But Frederick Tennyson's prophets shall compound for as
many railroads as they please.)

In fact, we did admirably by land. We were of unbridled extravagance,
and slept both at Lyons and Dijon, and travelled by express trains
besides, so that we were almost alone the whole way, and able to lie at
full length and talk and read, and 'Doit et Avoir' did duty by me, I
assure you--to say nothing of 'Galignanis' and French newspapers. I was
nearly sorry to arrive, and Robert suggested the facility of 'travelling
on for ever so.' He (by help of _nux_) was in a heavenly state of mind,
and never was the French people--public manners, private customs,
general bearing, hostelry, and cooking, more perfectly appreciated than
by him and all of us. Judge of the courtesy and liberality. _One_ box
had its lid opened, and when Robert disclaimed smuggling, 'Je vous
crois, monsieur' dismissed the others. Then the passport was never
looked at after a glance at Marseilles. I am thinking of writing to the
'Times,' or should be if I could keep my temper.

So you see, dear Isa, I am really very well for me to be so pert. Yes,
indeed, I am very well. The journey did not overtire me, and change of
air had its usual reviving effect. Also, Robert keeps boasting of his
influx of energies, and his appetite is renewed. We have resolved
nothing about our sea plans, but have long lists of places, and find it
difficult to choose among so many enchanting paradises, with drawbacks
of 'dearness,' &c. &c. Meanwhile we are settled comfortably in an hotel
close to the Tuileries, in a pretty salon and pleasant bedrooms, for
which we don't pay exorbitantly, taken for a week, and we shall probably
outstay the week. Robert has the deep comfort of finding his father, on
whose birthday we arrived, looking ten years younger--really, I may say
so--and radiant with joy at seeing him and Peni. Dear Mr. Browning and
Sarianna will go with us wherever we go, of course.

Paris looks more beautiful than ever, and we were not too dead to see
this as we drove through the streets on Wednesday evening. The
development of architectural splendour everywhere is really a sight
worth coming to see, even from Italy. Observe, I always feel the charm.
And yet I yearn back to my Florence--the dearer the farther.

We slept at Dijon, where Robert, in a passion of friendship, went out
twice to stand before Maison Milsand (one of the shows of the town), and
muse and bless the threshold. Little did he dream that Milsand was there
at that moment, having been called suddenly from Paris by the dangerous
illness of his mother. So we miss our friend; but we shall not, I think,
altogether, for he talked of following us to the sea, Sarianna says, and
even if he is restrained from doing this, we shall pass some little time
in Paris on our return, and so see him....

Mrs. Jameson is here, but goes on Saturday to England.

[_Incomplete_]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

2 Rue de Perry, Le Havre, Maison Versigny:
July 23, 1858 [postmark].

My dearest Fanny,-- ... I gave you an account of our journey to Paris,
which I won't write over again, especially as you may have read some
things like it. In Paris we remained a fortnight except a day, and I
liked it as I always like Paris, for which I have a decided fancy. And
yet I did nothing, except in one shop, and in a fiacre driving round and
round, and sometimes at a restaurant, dining round and round. But Paris
is so full of life--murmurs so of the fountain of intellectual youth for
ever and ever--that rolling up the rue de Rivoli (much more the
Boulevards) suggests a quicker beat of the fancy's heart; and I like
it--I like it. The architectural beauty is wonderful. Give me Venice on
water, Paris on land--each in its way is a dream city. If one had but
the sun there--such a sun as one has in Italy! Or if one had no lungs
here--such lungs as are in me. But no. Under actual circumstances
something different from Paris must satisfy me. Also, when all's said
and sighed. I love Italy--I love my Florence. I love that 'hole of a
place,' as Father Prout called it lately--with all its dust, its
cobwebs, its spiders even, I love it, and with somewhat of the kind of
blind, stupid, respectable, obstinate love which people feel when they
talk of 'beloved native lands.' I feel this for Italy, by mistake for
England. Florence is my chimney-corner, where I can sulk and be happy.
But you haven't come to that yet. In spite of which, you will like the
Baths of Lucca, just as you like Florence, for certain advantages--for
the exquisite beauty, and the sense of abstraction from the vulgarities
and vexations of the age, which is the secret of the strange charm of
the south, perhaps--who knows? And yet there are vulgarities and
vexations even in Tuscany, if one digs for them--or doesn't dig,
sometimes....

In Paris we saw Father Prout, who was in great force and kindness, and
Charles Sumner, passing through the burning torture under the hands of
French surgeons, which is approved of by the brains of English surgeons.
Do you remember the Jesuit's agony, in the 'Juif Errant'? Precisely
that. Exposed to the living coal for seven minutes, and the burns taking
six weeks to heal. Mr. Sumner refused chloroform--from some foolish
heroic principle, I imagine, and suffered intensely. Of course he is not
able to stir for some time after the operation, and can't read or sleep
from the pain. Now, he is just 'healed,' and is allowed to travel for
two months, after which he is to return and be burned again. Isn't it a
true martyrdom? I ask. What is apprehended is paralysis, or at best
nervous infirmity for life, from the effect of the blows (on the spine)
of that savage.

Then, just as we arrived in Paris, dear Lady Elgin had another 'stroke,'
and was all but gone. She rallied, however, with her wonderful vitality,
and we left her sitting in her garden, fixed to the chair, of course,
and not able to speak a word, nor even to gesticulate distinctly, but
with the eloquent soul full and radiant, alive to both worlds. Robert
and I sate there, talking politics and on other subjects, and there she
sate and let no word drop unanswered by her bright eyes and smile. It
was a beautiful sight. Robert fed her with a spoon from her soup-plate,
and she signed, as well as she could, that he should kiss her forehead
before he went away. She was always so fond of Robert, as women are apt
to be, you know--even _I_, a little....

Forster wrote the other day, melancholy with the misfortunes of his
friends, though he doesn't name Dickens. Landor had just fled to his
(Forster's) house in London for protection from _an action for libel_.

See what a letter I have written. Write to me, dearest Fanny, and love
me. Oh, how glad I shall be to be back among you again in my Florence!

Your ever affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

Maison Versigny, 2 Rue de Perry, Le Havre:
July 24, 1858 [postmark].

Dearest Mona Nina,--Have you rather wondered at not hearing? We have
been a-wandering, a-wandering over the world--have been to Etretat and
failed, and now are ignominiously settled at Havre--yes, at Havre, the
name of which we should have scorned a week ago as a mere roaring
commercial city. But after all, as sometimes I say with originality,
'civilisation is a good thing.' The country about Etretat is very
pretty, and the coast picturesque with fantastic rocks, but the
accommodation dear in proportion to its badness; which I do believe is
the case everywhere with places, now and then even with persons--dear in
proportion to their badness. We could get three bedrooms, a salon, and
kitchen, one opening into another and no other access, and the kitchen
presenting the first door, all furnished exactly alike, except that
where the bedroom had a bed the kitchen had a stove; wooden chairs _en
suite_, not an inch of carpet, and just an inch of looking-glass in the
best bedroom. View, a potato-patch, and price two hundred francs a
month. Robert took it in a 'fine phrenzy,' on which I rebelled, and made
him give it up on a sacrifice of ten francs, which was the only cheap
thing in the place, as far as I observed anything. Also, the bay is so
restricted that whoever takes a step is 'commanded' by all the windows
of the primitive hotel and the few villas, and as people have nothing
whatever to do but to look at you, you may imagine the perfection of the
analysis. I should have been a fly in a microscope, feeling my legs and
arms counted on all sides, and receiving no comfort from the scientific
results. So, you see, we 'gave it up' and came here in a sort of
despair, meaning to take the railroad to Dieppe; when lo! our examining
forces find that the place here is very tenable, and we take a house
close to the sea (though the view is interrupted) in a green garden, and
quite away from a suggestion of streets and commerce. The bathing is
good, we have a post-office and reading-rooms at our elbow, and nothing
distracting of any kind. The house is large and airy, and our two
families are lodged in separate apartments, though we meet at dinner in
our dining-room. Certainly the country immediately around Havre is not
pretty, but we came for the sea after all, and the sea is open and
satisfactory. Robert has found a hole I can creep through to the very
shore, without walking many yards, and there I can sit on a bench and
get strength, if so it pleases God.

Have I not sent you a full account of us? Now if you would return me a
cent. per cent.--_soll und haben_. I want so much to know all about
you--how you feel, dearest friend, and how you are. Do write and tell me
of yourself. May God bless you ever and ever!

Your affectionate and grateful
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Madame Braun_

2 Rue do Perry, Le Havre, Maison Versigny:
August 10 [1858].

My dearest Madame Braun,--If you have not heard from me before, it has
not been that I have not thought of you anxiously and tenderly, but I
had the idea that so many must be thinking of you, and saying to you
with sad faces 'they were sorry,' that I kept away, not to be the one
too many. It seems so vain when we sympathise with a suffering friend.
And yet it is _something_--oh yes, I have felt that! But you _knew_ I
must feel for you, if I teased you with words or not; and I, for my
part, hearing of you from others, felt shy, as I say, till I heard you
were better, of writing to you myself. And you _are_ feeling better,
Mrs. Jameson tells me, and are somewhat more cheerful about your state.
I thank God for this good news....

One of the few reasons for which I regret our absence from England this
summer is that I miss seeing you with my own eyes, and I should like
much to see you and talk to you of things of interest to both of us. If
illness suppresses in us a few sources of pleasure, it leaves the real
_ich_ open to influences and keen-sighted to _facts_ which are as surely
_natural_ as the fly's wing, though we are apt to consider them vaguely
as 'supernatural.'

'More and more life is what we want' Tennyson wrote long ago, and that
is the right want. Indifference to life is disease, and therefore not
strength. But the life here is only half the apple--a cut out of the
apple, I should say, merely meant to suggest the perfect round of
fruit--and there is in the world now, I can testify to you, _scientific
proof_ that what we call death is a mere change of circumstances, a
change of dress, a mere breaking of the outside shell and husk. This
subject is so much the most interesting to me of all, that I can't help
writing of it to you. Among all the ways of progress along which the
minds of men are moving, this draws me most. There is much folly and
fanaticism, unfortunately, because foolish men and women do not cease to
be foolish when they hit upon a truth. There was a man who hung
bracelets upon plane trees. But it was a tree--it is a
truth--notwithstanding; yes, and so much a truth that in twenty years
the probability is you will have no more doubters of the immortality of
souls, and no more need of Platos to prove it.

We have come here to dip _me_ in warm sea-water, in order to an
improvement in strength, for I have been very weak and unwell of late,
as perhaps Mrs. Jameson has told you. But the sea and the change have
brought me up again, as I hope they may yourself, and now I am looking
forward to getting back to Italy for the winter, and perhaps to Rome.

Did you know Lady Elgin in Paris? She has been hopelessly, in the
opinion of her physicians, affected by paralysis, but is now better, her
daughter writes to me. A most remarkable person Lady Elgin is. We left
her sitting in her garden, not able to speak--to articulate one
word--but with one of the most radiant happy faces I ever saw in man or
woman. I think I remember that you knew her. Her salon was one of the
most agreeable in Paris, and she herself, with her mixture of learning
and simplicity, one of the most interesting persons in it....

Dearest Madame Braun, I won't think of the possibility even of your
writing to me, so little do I expect to hear. Indeed, I would not write
if I considered it would entail writing upon _you_. Only believe that I
tenderly regard and think of you, and always shall. May God bless you,
my dear friend! Your attached

ELIZABETH B. BROWNING.

       *       *       *       *       *


The following letter was written at Paris during the stay there which
intervened between leaving Havre and the return to Florence:

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

6 Rue de Castiglione, Place Vendome, Paris:
October 2 [1858].

My dearest Isa,--I am saddened, saddened by your letter. We both are.
Indeed, this last news from India must have struck--I know it did.
Still, to your generous nature, long regret for your dear Louisa will be
impossible; and you, so given to forget yourself, will come to forget a
grief which is only your own. For she was in the world as not of it, in
a painful sense; she was cut off from the cheerful, natural development
of ordinary human beings; and if, as was probable, the conviction of
this dreary fact had fastened on her mind, the result would have been
perhaps demoralising, certainly depressing, more and more. Rather praise
God for her therefore, dearest Isa, that she is gone above the cloud,
gone where she can exercise active virtues and charities, instead of
being the mild patient object of the charities and virtues of her
friends. Perhaps she ministers to _you_ now instead of being ministered
to by you, while the remembrance of her life on earth is tenderly united
to you ever, a proof before men and angels that _your_ life (whatever
you may please to say of yourself) has not been useless, nor barren of
good and tender deeds....

In this letter and the last (such depressed letters!) you compare your
own fate with that of some others with an injustice which God measures,
and which I too have knowledge of. Isa, you speak you know not what. Be
sure of one thing, however, that God has not been niggardly towards you,
and that He never made a creature for which He did not make the work
suited to its hand. He never made a creature necessarily useless, nor
gave a life which it was not sin on the creature's part to hold
unthankfully and throw back as a poor gift. Your excellent understanding
will work clear your spirits presently. Some of those whom you think
enviable, if they showed you their secret griefs, unsuspected by you,
would leave tears in your eyes for _them_, not _you_. Every heart knows
its own bitterness, and God knows when the bitterest drop is necessary
for the heart's health. May He bless you, love you, teach you,
strengthen you, make you serene and bright in Him, dear, dear Isa. I
have spoken as to a sister; I have spoken as to my own soul in an hour
of faintness. Let us take courage, Isa.

Dear, I had just folded up your parcel for Miss Alexander that my
brother George should take it to-morrow. It has been my first
opportunity for England--at least, for London. But now I will carry it
back to you....

Arabel stays with me till we go, which will be in a fortnight perhaps
from now. We have an apartment in an exquisite situation, two paces from
the Tuileries Gardens, first floor, three best bedrooms and two
servants' rooms, a closet of a dining-room, a salon--all small, but
exquisitely comfortable and Parisian, looking into a court though, and
we are not tempted to stay the winter. No; we return to Florence
faithfully. Write again, and be happy, Isa; it is as if I said _be
good_. Tell me, can it be true that Lytton is in Florence with his
mother, as Father Prout assures us on the authority of Lady Walpole?...

Write to your ever, in word and deed, loving

BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


In October the travellers were back in Florence, but this time only for
a short stay of some six weeks, since it was decided that Rome would be
more suitable to Mrs. Browning's failing health during the winter. On
November 24 they reached Rome, and for the next six months were
quartered, as in the winter of 1853-4, at No. 43 Via Bocca di Leone.
Here it was that they heard the first mutterings of the storm which was
to burst during the following year and to result in the making of Italy.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

Casa Guidi: Saturday [about October 1858].

You do not come, dearest Fanny, though I am here waiting, and I begin to
be uneasy about you. Do at least write, do. We have been here since
Tuesday, and here is Saturday, and every morning there has been an
anxious looking forward for you....

Miss ---- wrote to me in Paris to propose travelling with us, which
Robert lacked chivalry to accede to; and, in fact, our ways of
journeying are too uncertain to admit of arrangements with anyone beyond
our circle. For instance, we took nine days to get here from Paris,
spending only one day at Chambery, for the sake of Les Charmettes and
Rousseau. Robert played the 'Dream' on the old harpsichord, the keys of
which rattled in a ghastly way, as if it were the bones of him who once
so 'dreamed.' Then there was the old watch hung up, without a tick in
it. At St. Jean de Maurienne we got into difficulties with diligences,
and submitted to being thrown out for the night at Lanslebourg, I more
dead than alive, and indeed I suffered much in passing the mountain next
morning. Then again, on the sea, we had a _burrasca_, and the captain
had half a mind when half-way to Leghorn to turn back to Genoa.
Passengers much frightened, including me, a little. A wretched
Neapolitan boat, with a machine 'inclined to go to the devil every time
the wind went anywhere,' as I heard a French gentleman on board say
afterwards. Altogether we were so done up after eighteen hours of it,
that we stayed at Leghorn instead of going on straight to Florence.
Still, now I seem to have got over fatigue and the rest--and we keep our
faces turned undeviatingly to Rome. Mdme. du Quaire having carefully
apprised M. Mignaty that we left Paris on the thirteenth, our friends
here seem to have made up their minds that we had perished by land or
water, and Annunziata's poor sister had passed three days in tears, for
instance.

Now, dearest Fanny, let me confess to you. I have not brought the
bonnet. A bonnet is a personal matter, and I would not let anyone choose
one for _me_. Still, as you had more faith in man (or woman), I would
have risked even displeasing you, only Robert would not let me. He said
it was absurd--I 'did not know your size;' I 'could not know your
taste;' in fact, he would not let me. Perhaps after all it is better.
You shall see mine, which is the last novelty, and I will tell you the
results of having investigated the bonnet question generally. I was told
at a fashionable shop that hats might be worn out of one's teens; but
in Paris, let me hasten to add, you don't see hats walking about except
on the heads of small girls. In Rome it may be otherwise, as at the
seaside it was. Bonnets are a great deal larger, but you shall see.

Oh, so glad I am to be back--so glad, so glad!

And so happy I shall be to see you, dearest Fanny, whom, till now, I
have not thanked for the pretty, pretty sketch. I recognised the persons
at a glance, you threw into them so much character....

Your ever most affectionate
E.B.B.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[Florence: about November 1858.]

Robert's uncertainty about Rome, my dearest Sarianna, has led him into
delay of writing. We dropped here upon summer, and a few days
afterwards, just as suddenly, the winter dropped upon _us_. Such
wonderful weather, such cold, such snow--enough to strangle one. The
rain has come, however, to-day, and though everything feels wretched
enough, and I am languid about schemes of travelling, we talk of going
next week, should nothing hinder.

    'If it be possible
    After much grief and pain.'

Peni would rather stay, I believe. His Florence is in his heart still.

Robert will have told you about his bust,[59] which is exquisite in the
clay, and will be exhibited in London in the marble next May. The
likeness, the poetry, the ideal grace and infantile reality are all
there. I am so happy to have it. I set about teasing Robert till he gave
it to me, and, as he really loses nothing thereby, I accepted at once,
as you may suppose. I would rather have given up Rome and had the bust;
but the artist was generous, and would only accept what would cover the
expenses, twenty-five guineas. He said he 'would not otherwise do it for
us, as he asked in the first place to be allowed to make the sketch in
clay, and would not appear to have laid a trap for an order.' So we are
all three very happy and grateful to one another--which is pleasant. I
feel the most obliged perhaps of the three--obliged to the other
two--and ought to be, after the napoleons dropt in Paris, Sarianna!

Oh no; the sea was necessary from Genoa. The expense of the journey
would have been very much increased if we had taken the whole way by
land, and it was a great thing to escape that rough Gulf of Lyons. The
journey to Rome will be rendered easy to Robert's pocket by the
extraordinary chance of Mr. Eckley's empty carriage, otherwise the
repeated pulls might have pulled us down too low.

Peni will write to you. He loves his nonno and you very much--tell
nonno; and my love goes with my message.

May God bless both of you! Love to M. Milsand.

Your affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_Robert Browning to Miss Browning_

Rome, 43 Bocca di Leone:
Friday, November 26, 1858 [postmark].

Dearest Sis,--You received a letter written last thing on Wednesday,
18th. We started next day with perfectly fine mild weather and every
sort of comfort, and got to our first night's stage, Poggio Bagnoli,
with great ease; with the same advantages next day, we passed Arezzo and
reached Camuscia, and on Saturday slept at Perugia, having found the
journey delightful. Sunday was rainy, but just as mild, so Ba did not
suffer at all; we slept at Spoleto. Rain again on Monday. We reached
Terni early in the day in order to go to the Falls, but the thing was
impossible for Ba. Eckley, his mother-in-law, and I went, however,
getting drenched, but they were fine, the rain and melted snow having
increased the waters extraordinarily. On Tuesday we had fine weather
again to Civita Castellana; there we found that on the previous day,
while we were staying at Terni, a carriage was stopped and robbed in the
road we otherwise should have pursued. They said such a thing had not
happened for years. On Wednesday afternoon, four o'clock, we reached
Rome, with beautiful weather; so it had been for some four out of our
seven days. Ba bore the journey irregularly well; of course she has thus
had a week of open air, beside the change, which always benefits her. We
always had the windows of the carriage open. We passed Wednesday night
at an hotel in order to profit by any information friends might be able
to furnish, but we ended by returning to the rooms here we occupied
before, of which we knew the virtues--a blaze of sun on the front
rooms--and absolute healthiness. Rents are enormous; we pay only ten
dollars a month more than before, in consideration of the desire the old
landlady had to get us again. To anybody else the price would have been
20 more--60 in all--for which we are to pay 40. The Eckleys took _good
rooms_ and pay 1,000 (L210 or 15) for six months! One can't do _that_.
The best is that they have thoroughly cleaned and painted the place, and
everything is very satisfactorily arranged. We take the apartment for
four months, meaning to be at liberty to go to Naples if we like. We
have no fire this morning while I write, but it is before breakfast and
Ba may like the sight of one, tho' I rather think she will not. Rome
looks very well, and I hope we shall have a happier time of it than
before. Many friends are here and everybody is very kind. The Eckleys
were extravagantly good to us, something beyond conception almost. We
have seen Miss Cushman, Hatty,[60] Leighton, Cartwright, the Storys,
Page and his new (third) wife, Gibson, beside the Brackens and Mrs.
Mackenzie; and there are others I shall see to-day. Ferdinando was sent
on by sea with the luggage, and met us at the gate. It has been an
expensive business altogether, but I think we shall not regret it. I
daresay you have mild weather at Paris also. These premature beginnings
of cold break down and leave the rest of the year the warmer, if not the
better for them. Dearest Sis, write and tell me all the news of your two
selves. Do you hear anything about Reuben's leaving London? Anything of
Lady Elgin? How is Madame Milsand? I will send you the last 'Ath.' I
have received, but break off here rather abruptly, in order to let Ba
write. Good-bye. God bless you both. Kindest love to Milsand.

Yours ever affectionately
R.B.

       *       *       *       *       *


_E.B. Browning to Miss Browning_

My dearest Sarianna,--I don't know whether this letter from Rome will
surprise you, but we have done it at last. Our journey was most
prosperous, the wonderful inrush of winter which buried all Italy in
snow, and for some days rendered the possibility of any change of
quarters so more than doubtful (I myself gave it up for days), having
given way to an inrush of summer as wonderful. The change was so
pleasant that I bore with perfect equanimity the lamentations of certain
English acquaintances of ours in Florence, who declared it was the most
frightful and dangerous climate that could be, that now one was frozen
to death and the next day burnt and melted, and that people couldn't be
healthy under such transitions. But all countries of the south are
subject to the same of course wherever there is a southern sun, and
mountains to retain snow. Even in Paris you complain of something a
little like it, because of the sun. We left Florence in a blaze of
sunshine accordingly, and there and everywhere found the country
transfigured back into summer, except for two days of April rain. Of the
kindness of our dear friends Mr. and Mrs. Eckley I am moved when I try
to speak. They humiliate me by their devotion. Such generosity and
delicacy, combined with so much passionate sentiment (there is no other
word), are difficult to represent. The Americans are great in some
respects, not that Americans generally are like these, but that these
could scarcely be English--for instance, that mixture of enthusiasm and
simplicity we have not. Our journey was delightful and not without some
incidents, which might have been accidents. We were as nearly as
possible thrown once into a ditch and once down a mountain precipice,
the spirited horses plunging on one side, but at last Mr. Eckley lent us
his courier, who sate on the box by the coachman and helped him to
manage better. Then there was a fight between our oxen-drivers, one of
them attempting to stab the other with a knife, and Robert rushing in
between till Peni and I were nearly frantic with fright. No harm
happened, however, except that Robert had his trousers torn. And we
escaped afterwards certain banditti, who stopped a carriage only the day
before on the very road we travelled, and robbed it of sixty-two scudi.

Here at Rome we are still fortunate, for with enormous prices rankling
around us we get into our old quarters at eleven pounds a month. The
rooms are smaller than our ambition would fain climb to (one climbs,
also, a little too high on the stairs), but on the whole the quiet
healthfulness and sunshine are excellent things, particularly in Rome,
and we are perfectly contented....

Rome is so full that I am proceeding to lock up my doors throughout the
day. I can't live without some use of life. Here must come the break.
May God bless you both! Pen's love with mine to the dear nonno and
yourself.

BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Ruskin_

Rome, 43 Bocca di Leone: January 1, 1859.

My dear Mr. Ruskin,--There is an impulse upon me to write to you, and as
it ought to have come long ago, I yield to it, and am glad that it comes
on this first day of a new year to inaugurate the time. It may be a good
omen for _me_. Who knows?

We received your letter at Florence and very much did it touch me--us, I
should say--and then I would have written if you hadn't bade us wait for
another letter, which has not come to this day. Shall I say one thing?
The sadness of that letter struck me like the languor after victory, for
you who have fought many good fights and never for a moment seemed to
despond before, write this word and this. After treading the world down
in various senses, you are tired. It is natural perhaps, but this evil
will pass like other evils, and I wish you from my heart a good clear
noble year, with plenty of work, and God consciously over all to give
you satisfaction. What would this life be, dear Mr. Ruskin, if it had
not eternal relations? For my part, if I did not believe so, I should
lay my head down and die. Nothing would be worth doing, certainly. But I
am what many people call a 'mystic,' and what I myself call a 'realist,'
because I consider that every step of the foot or stroke of the pen here
has some real connection with and result in the hereafter.

'This life's a dream, a fleeting show!' no indeed. That isn't my
'_doxy_.' I don't think that nothing is worth doing, but that everything
is worth doing--everything good, of course--and that everything which
does good for a moment does good for ever, in _art_ as well as in
morals. Not that I look for arbitrary punishment or reward (the last
least, certainly. I would no more impute merit to the human than your
Spurgeon would), but that I believe in a perpetual sequence, according
to God's will, and in what has been called a 'correspondence' between
the natural world and the spiritual.

Here I stop myself with a strong rein. It is fatal, dear Mr. Ruskin, to
write letters on New Year's day. One can't help moralising; one falls on
the metaphysical vein unaware.

Forgive me.

We are in Rome you see. We have been very happy and found rooms swimming
all day in sunshine, when there is any sun, and yet not ruinously dear.
I was able to go out on Christmas morning (a wonderful event for me) and
hear the silver trumpets in St. Peter's. Well, it was very fine. I never
once thought of the Scarlet Lady, nor of the Mortara case, nor anything
to spoil the pleasure. Yes, and I enjoyed it both aesthetically and
devotionally, putting my own words to the music. Was it wise, or wrong?

But we have had and are having some cold, some tramontana, and I have
kept house ever since. Only in Rome there's always hope of a good warm
scirocco. We talk of seeing Naples before we turn home to our Florence,
to keep feast for Dante.

It is delightful to hear of all you are _permitted_ to do for England
meanwhile in matters of art, and one of these days we shall go north to
take a few happy hours of personal advantage out of it all. Not this
year, however, I think. We have done duty to the north too lately. Now
it seems to me we have the right (of virtue, in spite of what I said on
another page, or rather, _because_ I said it in good human
inconsistency), the right to have and hold our Italy in undisturbed
possession. I never feel at home anywhere else, or to _live_ rightly
anywhere else at all. It's a horrible want of patriotism, of course,
only, if I were upon trial, I might say in a low voice a few things to
soften the judgment against me on account of that sin. Ah! we missed you
at Havre! If you had come it would have been something pleasant to
remember that detestable place by, besides the salt-water which profited
one's health a little. We were in Paris too some six weeks in all
(besides eight weeks at Havre!) and Paris has a certain charm for me
always. If we had seen you in Paris! But no, you must have floated past
us, close, close, yet we missed you.

A good happy new year we wish to Mr. and Mrs. Ruskin, as to yourself,
and, dear Mr. Ruskin, to your mother I shall say that my child is
developing in a way to make me very contented and thankful. Yes, I thank
God for him more and more, and _she_ can understand that, I know. His
musical faculty is a decided thing, and he plays on the piano quite
remarkably for his age (through his father's instruction) while I am
writing this. He is reading aloud to me an Italian translation of 'Monte
Cristo,' and with a dramatic intelligence which would strike you, as it
does perhaps, that I should select such a book for a child of nine years
old to read at all. It's rather young to be acclimated to French novels,
is it not? But the difficulty of getting Italian books is great, and
there's a good deal in the early part of 'Monte Cristo,' the prison
part, very attractive. His voice was full of sobs when poor Dantes was
consigned to the Chateau d'If. "Do you mean to say, mama, that _that
boy_ is to stay there all his life?" He made me tell him 'to make him
happy,' as he said.

For the rest he reads French and German, and we shall have to begin
Latin in another year I suppose. Do you advise that, you, Mr. Ruskin? He
has not given up the drawing neither. Ah! but there is a weight beyond
the post, whatever your goodness may bear, and I must leave a little
space for Robert.

May God bless you, my dear friend! Dare I say it? it _came_.

Affectionately yours always,
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

       *       *       *       *       *


_Robert Browning to Mr. Ruskin_

I am to say something, dear Ruskin; it shall be only the best of wishes
for this and all other years; go on again like the noble and dear man
you are to us all, and especially to us two out of them all. Whenever I
chance on an extract, a report, it lights up the dull newspaper stuff
wrapt round it and makes me glad at heart and clearer in head. We, for
our part, have just sent off a corrected 'Aurora Leigh,' which is the
better for a deal of pains, we hope, and my wife deserves. There will be
a portrait from a photograph done at Havre without retouching--good, I
think. Truest love to you and yours--your father and mother. Do help us
by a word every now and then.

Affectionately yours,
R.B.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

[Rome]: 43 Bocca di Leone: January 7 [1859].

My dearest Isa,--Your letter seemed long in coming, as this will seem to
you, I fear. I ought to have answered mine at once, and put off doing so
from reason to reason, and from day to day. Very busy I have been,
sending off seven of the nine books of 'Aurora,'[61] having dizzied
myself with the 'ifs' and 'ands,' and done some little good I hope at
much cost....

As to the Roman climate, we have had some beautiful weather, but Robert
was calling his gods to witness (the goddess Tussis among them) that he
never felt it so cold in Florence--never. Fountains frozen, Isa, and the
tramontana tremendous. But it can't last--that's the comfort at Rome;
and meantime we are housed exquisitely in our lion's mouth; the new
_portiere_ and universal carpeting keeping it snugger than ever, and the
sun over-streaming us through six windows. I have just been saying that
whenever I come to Rome I shall choose to come here. The only fault is,
the height and the smallness of the rooms; and, in spite of the last, we
have managed to have and hold twenty people and upwards through a
_serata_. Peni has had a bad cold, from over-staying the time on the
Pincio one afternoon, and I have kept him in the house these ten days.
Such things one may do by one's lion-cubs; but the lions are harder to
deal with, and Robert caught cold two or three days ago; in spite of
which he chose to get up at six every morning as usual and go out to
walk with Mr. Eckley. Only by miracle and nux is he much better to-day.
I thought he was going to have a furious grippe, as last year and the
year before. I must admit, however, that he is extremely well just now,
to speak generally, and that this habit of regular exercise (with
occasional homoeopathy) has thrown him into a striking course of
prosperity, as to looks, spirits and appetite. He eats 'vulpinely' he
says--which means that a lark or two is no longer enough for dinner. At
breakfast the loaf perishes by Gargantuan slices. He is plunged into
gaieties of all sorts, caught from one hand to another like a ball, has
gone out every night for a fortnight together, and sometimes two or
three times deep in a one night's engagements. So plenty of distraction,
and no Men and Women. Men and women from without instead! I am shut up
in the house of course, and go to bed when he goes out--and the worst
is, that there's a difficulty in getting books. Still, I get what I can,
and stop up the chinks with Swedenborg; and in health am very well, for
me, and in tranquillity excellently well. Not that there are not people
more than enough who come to see me, but that there is nothing vexatious
just now; life goes smoothly, I thank God, and I like Rome better than I
did last time. The season is healthy too (for Rome). I have only heard
of one English artist since we came, who arrived, sickened, died, and
was buried, before anyone knew who he was. Besides ordinary cases of
slight Roman fever among the English, Miss Sherwood (who with her father
was at Florence) has had it slightly, and Mrs. Marshall who came to us
from Tennyson. (A Miss Spring-Rice she was.) But the poor Hawthornes
suffer seriously. Una is dissolved to a shadow of herself by reiterated
attacks, and now Miss Shepherd is seized with gastric fever. Mr.
Hawthorne is longing to get away--where, he knows not.

My Peni has conquered his cold, and when the weather gets milder I shall
let him out. Meanwhile he has taken to--what do you suppose? I go into
his room at night and find him with a candle regularly settled on the
table by him, and he reading, deeply rapt, an Italian translation of
'Monte Cristo.' Pretty well for a lion-cub, isn't it? He is enchanted
with this book, lent to him by our padrona; and exclaims every now and
then, 'Oh, magnificent, magnificent!' And this morning, at breakfast, he
gravely delivered himself to the following effect: 'Dear mama, for the
future I mean to read _novels_. I shall read all Dumas's, to begin. And
then I shall like to read papa's favourite book, "Madame Bovary."'
Heavens, what a lion-cub! Robert and I could only answer by a burst of
laughter. It was so funny. That little dot of nine and a half full of
such hereditary tendencies.

And 'Madame Bovary' in a course of education!...

May God bless you, my much-loved Isa, for this and other years beyond
also! I shall love you all that way--says the genius of the ring.

Your ever loving
BA.

FOOTNOTES:

[46] Ferdinando Romagnoli. He died at Venice, in the Palazzo Rezzonico,
January 1893. His widow (who, as the following letters show, continued
to be called Wilson in the family) is still living with Mr. R.B.
Browning.

[47] This refers to a note from Mrs. Browning to Miss Haworth, inquiring
whether it was true that she was engaged to be married.

[48] The notorious medium, prototype of Mr. Browning's 'Sludge.' He
subsequently changed his name to Home.

[49] An attempted revision of the poem, subsequently abandoned, as
explained in the preface addressed to M. Milsand in 1863.

[50] Mr. Browning and the boy had been suffering from sore throats.

[51] For the substance of this information I am indebted to Mr. Charles
Aldrich, to whom the letter was presented by Mrs. Kinney, and through
whose kindness it is here printed. The original now forms part of the
Aldrich collection in the Historical Department of Iowa, U.S.A.

[52] The husband of Wilson, Mrs. Browning's maid.

[53] An odd commentary on this 'poem' may be found in Mrs. Orr's _Life
of Robert Browning_, p. 219.

[54] See _Aurora Leigh_, p. 276:

    'I found a house at Florence on the hill
    Of Bellosguardo. 'Tis a tower which keeps
    A post of double observation o'er
    That valley of Arno (holding as a hand
    The outspread city) straight toward Fiesole
    And Mount Morello and the setting sun,
    The Vallombrosan mountains opposite,
    Which sunrise fills as full as crystal cups
    Turned red to the brim because their wine is red.
    No sun could die nor yet be born unseen
    By dwellers at my villa: morn and eve
    Were magnified before us in the pure
    Illimitable space and pause of sky,
    Intense as angels' garments blanched with God,
    Less blue than radiant. From the outer wall
    Of the garden drops the mystic floating grey
    Of olive trees (with interruptions green
    From maize and vine), until 'tis caught and torn
    Upon the abrupt black line of cypresses
    Which signs the way to Florence. Beautiful
    The city lies along the ample vale,
    Cathedral, tower and palace, piazza and street,
    The river trailing like a silver cord
    Through all, and curling loosely, both before
    And after, over the whole stretch of land
    Sown whitely up and down its opposite slopes
    With farms and villas.'

Miss Blagden's villa was the Villa Bricchieri, which is alluded to
elsewhere in the letters.

[55] A line or two has been cut off the bottom of the sheet at this
place.

[56] The _Elements of Drawing_.

[57] Orsini's attempt on the life of the Emperor Napoleon on January 14,
1858.

[58] Referring to the Conspiracy Bill introduced by Lord Palmerston
after the Orsini conspiracy against Napoleon in January 1858, and to the
outcry against it, as an act of subservience to France, which led to
Palmerston's fall. Count Walewski was the French Minister for Foreign
Affairs, and his despatch, alluded to below, called the attention of the
English Government to the shelter afforded by England to conspirators of
the type of Orsini.

[59] A bust of the child, by Monroe.

[60] Miss Hosmer.

[61] The fourth edition, in which several alterations were made.




CHAPTER X

1859-60


At this point in Mrs. Browning's correspondence we reach the first
allusion to the political crisis which had now become acute, and of
which the letters that follow are full, almost to excess. On January 1
Napoleon had astounded Europe by his language to the Austrian ambassador
at Paris, in which he spoke of the bad relations unfortunately
subsisting between their States. On the 10th Victor Emmanuel declared
that he must listen to the cry of pain which came up to him from all
Italy. After this it was clear that there was nothing to do but to
prepare for war. It was in vain that England pressed for a European
Congress, with the view of arranging a general disarmament. Sardinia
professed willingness to accept it, but Austria declined, and on April
23 sent an ultimatum to Victor Emmanuel, demanding unconditional
disarmament, which was naturally refused. On the 29th Austria declared
war, and her troops crossed the Ticino--an act which Napoleon had
already announced would be considered as tantamount to a declaration of
war with France.

With regard to the tone of Mrs. Browning's letters during this period of
politics and war, there are a few considerations to be borne in mind.
Her two deepest political convictions were here united in one--her faith
in the honesty of Louis Napoleon, and her enthusiasm for Italian freedom
and unity. There were many persons in England, and some in Italy
itself, who held the latter of these faiths without the former; but for
such she had no tolerance. Hence not only those who sympathised, as no
doubt some Englishmen did sympathise, with Austria, but also those who,
while wishing well to Italy, looked with suspicion upon Napoleon's
interference, incurred her uncompromising wrath; and not even the
conference of Villafranca, not even the demand for Nice and Savoy, could
lead her to question Napoleon's sincerity, or to look with patience on
the English policy and English public opinion of that day. The instinct
of Italians has been truer. They have recognised the genuine sympathy
and support which England extended to them on many occasions during the
long struggle for Italian unity, and the friendship between the two
countries to-day has its root in the events of forty and fifty years
ago.

That Robert Browning did not entirely share his wife's views will be
clear to all readers of 'Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau;' but there is not
the smallest sign that this caused the least shadow of disagreement
between them. Indeed for the moment the difference was practically
annulled, since Robert Browning believed, what was very probably the
case, that the Emperor's friendship for Italy was genuine, so far as it
went. But it may be believed that he was less surprised than she when
Napoleon's zeal for Italian independence stopped short at the frontiers
of Venetia, and was transformed into an anxiety to get out of the war
without further risk, and with an eye to material compensation in Savoy
and Nice.

It is also right to bear in mind the failing condition of Mrs.
Browning's health. The strain of anxiety unquestionably overtaxed her
strength, and probably told upon her mental tone in a way that may
account for much that seems exaggerated, and at times even hysterical,
in her expressions regarding those who did not share her views. Her
errors were noble and arose from a passionate nobility of character, to
which much might be forgiven, if there were much to forgive.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

Rome: [about February 1, 1859].

I am sure Robert has been too long about writing this time, dearest
Sarianna. It did not strike either of us till this morning that it was
so long. We have all been well; and Robert is whirled round and round
so, in this most dissipated of places (to which Paris is really grave
and quiet), that he scarcely knows if he stands on his feet or his
head....

Since Christmas Day I have been out twice, once to see Mr. Page's
gorgeous picture (just gone to Paris), and once to run back again before
the wind; but I am too susceptible. The weather has been glorious to
everybody with some common sense in their lungs. And to-day it is
possible even to _me_, they say, and I am preparing for an effort.

Pen is quite well and rosy. Still we hear of illness, and I am very
particular and nervous about him. All Mr. Hawthorne's family have been
ill one after another, and now he is struck himself with the fever.

Let me remember to say how the professor's letter seemed to say so
much--too much.

Particularly just now. I for one can receive no compliments about
'English honesty' &c., after the ignoble way we are behaving about
Italy. I dare say dear M. Milsand (who doesn't sympathise much with our
Italy) thinks it 'imprudent' of the Emperor to make this move, but that
it is generous and magnanimous he will admit. The only great-hearted
politician in Europe--but chivalry always came from France. The emotion
here is profound--and the terror, among the priests.

Always I expected this from Napoleon, and, if he will carry out his
desire, Peni and I are agreed to kneel down and kiss his feet. The
pamphlet which proceeds from him is magnificent. I said it long ago--to
Jessie White I said it, 'You would destroy,' said I, 'the only man who
has it in his heart and head to do anything for Italy.'

Most happily Robert's and my protestation went to America in time; just
before the present contingency. Yes, Jessie should not have permitted
our names to be used so. Being passive even was a fault--yes, and more
than a fault. Robert is in great spirits and very well indeed....

Ever your most affectionate,
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

[Rome]: 43 Bocca di Leone: March 27, [1859].

My ever dearest Isa,--You don't write, not you! I wrote last, remember,
and though you may not have liked all the politics of the same, you
might have responded to some of the love, you naughty Isa; so I think I
shall get up a 'cause celebre' for myself (it shall be my turn now), and
I shall prove (or try) that nobody has loved me (or can) up to this date
of the 26th of March, 1859. Dearest Isa, seriously speaking, you must
write, for I am anxious to know that you are recovering your good looks
and proper bodily presence as to weight. Just now I am scarcely of sane
mind about Italy. It even puts down the spirit-subject. I pass through
cold stages of anxiety, and white heats of rage. Robert accuses me of
being 'glad' that the new 'Times' correspondent has been suddenly seized
with Roman fever. It is I who have the true fever--in my brain and
heart. I am chiefly frightened lest Austria yield on unimportant points
to secure the vital ones; and Louis Napoleon, with Germany and England
against him, is in a very hard position. God save us all!

Massimo d' Azeglio[62] has done us the real honor of coming to see us,
and seldom have I, for one, been more gratified. A noble chivalrous
head, and that largeness of the political _morale_ which I find nowhere
among statesmen, except in the head of the French Government. Azeglio
spoke bitterly of English policy, stigmatised it as belonging to a past
age, the rags of old traditions. He said that Louis Napoleon had made
himself great simply by comprehending the march of civilisation (the
true Christianity, said Azeglio) and by leading it. Exactly what I have
always thought. Azeglio disbelieves in any aim of territorial
aggrandisement on the part of France. He is full of hope for Italy. It
is '48 over again, said he, but with matured actors. He finds a unity of
determination among the Italians wherever he goes.

Well, Azeglio is a man. Seldom have I seen a man whom I felt more
sympathy towards. He has a large, clear, attractive 'sphere,' as we
Swedenborgians say.

The pamphlet Collegno never reached us. The Papal Government has
snatched it on the way. Farini's is very good. Thank you for all your
kindness as to pamphlets (not letters, Isa! I distinguish in my
gratitude). We lent Mr. Trollope's to Odo Russell,[63] the English
plenipotentiary, and to Azeglio, so that it has produced fruit in our
hands.

Did I write since Robert dined with the Prince of Wales? Col. Bruce
called here and told me that though the budding royalty was not to be
exposed to the influences of mixed society, the society of the most
eminent men in Rome was desired for him, and he (Col. Bruce) knew it
would 'gratify the Queen that the Prince should make the acquaintance of
Mr. Browning.' Afterwards came the invitation, or 'command.' I told
Robert to set them all right on Italian affairs, and to eschew
compliments, which, you know, is his weak point. (He said the other day
to Mrs. Story: 'I had a delightful evening yesterday at your house. I
_never spoke to you once_,' and encouraged an artist, who was 'quite
dissatisfied with his works,' as he said humbly, by an
encouraging--'But, my dear fellow, if you were satisfied, you would be
so _very easily_ satisfied!' Happy! wasn't it?) Well, so I exhorted my
Robert to eschew compliments and keep to Italian politics, and we both
laughed, as at a jest. But really he had an opportunity, the subject was
permitted, admitted, encouraged, and Robert swears that he talked on it
higher than his breath. But, oh, the English, the English! I am
unpatriotic and disloyal to a _crime_, Isa, just now. Besides which, as
a matter of principle, I never put my trust in princes, except in the
parvenus.

Not that the little prince here talked politics. But some of his suite
did, and he listened. He is a gentle, refined boy, Robert says....

May God bless you, dearest Isa. I am, your very loving

BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

Rome: [about April 1859].

Dearest Sarianna,--People are distracting the 'Athenaeums,' Robert
complains, as they distract other things, but in time you will recover
them, I hope. Mr. Leighton has made a beautiful pencil-drawing, highly
finished to the last degree, of him;[64] very like, though not on the
poetical side, which is beyond Leighton. Of this you shall have a
photograph soon; and in behalf of it, I pardon a drawing of me which I
should otherwise rather complain of, I confess.

We are all much saddened just now (in spite of war) by the state of Una
Hawthorne, a lovely girl of fifteen, Mr. Hawthorne's daughter, who,
after a succession of attacks of Roman fever, has had another,
complicated with gastric, which has fallen on the lungs, and she only
lives from hour to hour. Homoeopathic treatment persisted in, which
never answers in these fevers. Ah--there has been much illness in Rome.
Miss Cushman has had an attack, but you would not recognise other names.
We are well, however, Pen like a rose, and Robert still expanding.
Dissipations decidedly agree with Robert, there's no denying that,
though he's horribly hypocritical, and 'prefers an evening with me at
home,' which has grown to be a kind of dissipation also.

We are in great heart about the war, as if it were a peace, without need
of war. Arabel writes alarmed about our funded money, which we are not
likely to lose perhaps, precisely because we are _not_ alarmed. The
subject never occurred to me, in fact. I was too absorbed in the general
question--yes, and am.

So it dawns upon you, Sarianna, that things at Rome and at Naples are
not quite what they should be. A certain English reactionary party would
gladly make the Pope a _paratonnerre_ to save Austria, but this won't
do. The poor old innocent Pope would be paralytically harmless but for
the Austrian, who for years has supported the corruptions here against
France; and even the King of Naples would drop flat as a pricked bubble
if Austria had not maintained that iniquity also. We who have lived in
Italy all these years, know the full pestilent meaning of Austria
everywhere. What is suffered in Lombardy _exceeds what is suffered
elsewhere_. Now, God be thanked, here is light and hope of deliverance.
Still you doubt whether the French are free enough themselves to give
freedom! Well, I won't argue the question about what 'freedom' is. We
shall be perfectly satisfied here with French universal suffrage and the
ballot, the very same democratical government which advanced Liberals
are straining for in England. But, however that may be, the Italians are
perfectly contented at being liberated by the French, and entirely
disinclined to wait the chance of being more honorably assisted by their
'free' and virtuous friend on the other side of the hedge (or Channel),
who is employed at present in buttoning up his own pockets lest
peradventure he should lose a shilling: giving dinners though, and the
smaller change, to 'Neapolitan exiles,' whom only this very cry of 'war'
has freed.

Robert and I have been of one mind lately in these things, which
comforts me much. But the chief comfort is--the state of facts.

Massimo d' Azeglio came to see us, and talked nobly, with that noble
head of his. I was far prouder of his coming than of another personal
distinction you will guess at, though I don't pretend to have been
insensible even to that. 'It is '48 over again,' said he, 'with matured
actors.' In fact, the unity throughout Italy is wonderful. What has been
properly called 'the crimes of the Holy Alliance' will be abolished this
time, if God defends the right, which He will, I think. I have faith and
hope.

But people are preparing to run, and perhaps we shall be forced to use
the gendarmes against the brigands (with whom the country is beset, as
in all cases of general disturbance) when we travel, but this is all the
difference it will make with us. Tuscany is only restraining itself out
of deference to France, and not to complicate her difficulties. War must
be, if it is not already.

Yes, I was 'not insensible,' democratical as I am, and un-English as I
am said to be. Col. Bruce told me that 'he knew it would be gratifying
to the Queen that the Prince should make Robert's acquaintance.' 'She
wished him to know the most eminent men in Rome.' It might be a
weakness, but I was pleased.

Pen's and my love to the dearest Nonno and you.

Your affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


In May, shortly after the outbreak of war, the Brownings returned to
Florence, whither a division of French troops had been sent, under the
command of Prince Napoleon. The Grand Duke had already retired before
the storm, and a provisional government had been formed. It was here
that they heard the news of Magenta (June 4) and Solferino (June 24),
with their wholly unexpected sequel, the armistice and the meeting of
the two Emperors at Villafranca. The latter blow staggered even Mrs.
Browning for the moment, but though her frail health suffered from the
shock, her faith in Louis Napoleon was proof against all attack. She
could not have known the good military reasons he had for not risking a
reversal of the successes which he had won more through his enemy's
defects than through the excellence of his own army or dispositions; but
she found an explanation in the supposed intrigues of England and
Germany, which frustrated his good intentions.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

Florence: [about May 1859].

My dearest Sarianna,--You will like to hear, if only by a scratch, that
we are back in Tuscany with all safety, after a very pleasant journey
through an almost absolute solitude. Florence is perfectly tranquil and
at the same time most unusually animated, what with the French troops
and the passionate gratitude of the people. We have two great flags on
our terrace, the French flag and the Italian, and Peni keeps a moveable
little flag between them, which (as he says) 'he can take out in the
carriage sometimes.' Pen is enchanted with the state of things in
general, and the French camp in particular, which he came home from only
in the dusk last night, having 'enjoyed himself so very much in seeing
those dear French soldiers play at blindman's buff.' They won't,
however, remain long here, unless the Austrians threaten to come down on
us, which, I trust, they will be too much absorbed to do. The melancholy
point in all this is the dirt eaten and digested with a calm face by
England and the English. Now that I have exhausted myself with
indignation and protestation, Robert has taken up the same note, which
is a comfort. I would rather hear my own heart in his voice. Certainly
it must be still more bitter for him than for me, seeing that he has
more national predilections than I have, and has struggled longer to see
differently. Not only the prestige, but the very respectability of
England is utterly lost here--and nothing less is expected than her
ultimate and open siding with Austria in the war. If she does, we shall
wash our hands like so many Pilates, which will save us but not England.

We are intending to remain here as long as we can bear the heat, which
is not just now too oppressive, though it threatens to be so. We must be
somewhere near, to see after our property in the case of an Austrian
approach, which is too probable, we some of us think; and I just hear
that a body of the French will remain to meet the contingency. Our
Italians are fighting as well as soldiers can.

Tell M. Milsand, with my love, that if I belonged to his country, I
should feel very proud at this time. As to the Emperor, he is sublime.
He will appear so to all when he comes out of this war (as I believe)
with clean and empty hands....

Robert gives ten scudi a month (a little more than two guineas) to the
war as long as it lasts, and Peni is to receive half a paul every day he
is good at his lessons, that he also may give to the great cause. I must
write a word to the dear nonno. May God bless both of you, says your

Affectionate Sister,
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Browning, Senior_

[Same date.]

Yes, indeed, I missed the revolution in Tuscany, dearest Nonno, which
was a loss--but perhaps, in compensation (who knows?), I shall be in for
an Austrian bombardment or brigandage, or something as good or bad. But,
after all, you are not to be anxious about us because of a jest of mine.
We have Tuscan troops on the frontier, and French troops in the city,
and although the Duchess of Parma has graciously given leave, they say,
to the Austrians to cross her dominions in order to get into Tuscany, we
shall be well defended. We are all full of hope and calm, and never
doubt of the result. If ever there was a holy cause it is this; if ever
there was a war on which we may lawfully ask God's blessing, it is this.
The unanimity and constancy of the Italian people are beautiful to
witness. The affliction of ten years has ripened these souls. Never was
a contrast greater than what is to-day and what was in '48. No more
distrust, nor division, nor vacillation, and a gratitude to the French
nation which is quite pathetic.

Peni is all in a glow about Italy, and wishes he was 'great boy enough'
to fight. Meantime he does his lessons for the fighters--half a paul a
day when he is good.

Mr. del Bene thought him much improved in his music, and I hope he gets
on in other things, and that when we bring him back to you (crowned with
Italian laurels), you will think so too. Meanwhile think of us and love
us, dearest Nonno. I always think of your kindness to me.

Your ever affectionate Daughter,
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Ruskin_

Casa Guidi: June 3, [1859].

My dear Mr. Ruskin,--We send to you every now and then somebody hungry
for a touch from your hand; we who are famished for it ourselves. But
this time we send you a man whom you will value perfectly for himself
and be kind to from yourself, quite spontaneously. He is the American
artist, Page, an earnest, simple, noble artist and man, who carries his
Christianity down from his deep heart to the point of his brush. Draw
him out to talk to you, and you will find it worth while. He has learnt
much from Swedenborg, and used it in his views upon art. Much of it (if
new) may sound to you wild and dreamy--but the dream will admit of
logical inference and philosophical induction, and when you open your
eyes, it is still there.

He has not been successful in life--few are who are uncompromising in
their manner of life. When I speak of life, I include art, which is life
to him. I should like you to see what a wonder of light and colour and
space and breathable air, he put into his Venus rising from the
sea--refused on the ground of nudity at the Paris Exhibition this
summer. The loss will be great to him, I fear.

You will recognise in this name _Page_, the painter of Robert's portrait
which you praised for its Venetian colour, and criticised in other
respects. In fact, Mr. Page believes that he has discovered Titian's
secret--and, what is more, he will tell it to you in love, and indeed to
anybody else in charity. So I don't say that to bribe you.

Dear, dear Mr. Ruskin, we thank you and love you more than ever for your
good word about our Italy. Oh, if you knew how hard it is and has been
to receive the low, selfish, ignoble words with which this great cause
has been pelted from England, not from her Derby government only, but
from her parliament, her statesmen, her reformers, her leaders of the
Liberal party, her free press--to receive such words full in our faces,
nay, in the quick of our hearts, till we grow sick with loathing and hot
with indignation--if you knew what it was and is, you would feel how
glad and grateful we must be to have a right word from John Ruskin. Dear
Mr. Ruskin, England has done terribly ill, ignobly ill, which is worse.
That men of all parties should have spoken as they have, proves a state
of public morals lamentable to admit. What--not even our poets with
clean hands? Alfred Tennyson abetting Lord Derby? That to me was the
heaviest blow of all.

Meanwhile we shall have a free Italy at least, for everything goes well
here. Massimo d' Azeglio came to see us in Rome, and he said then, 'It
is '48 with matured actors.' Indeed, there is a wonderful unanimity,
calm, and resolution everywhere in Italy. All parties are broken up
into the one great national party. The feeling of the people is
magnificent. The painful experience of ten years has borne fruit in
their souls. No more distrust, no more division, no more holding back,
no more vacillation. And Louis Napoleon--well, I think he is doing me
credit--and you, dear Mr. Ruskin--for _you_, too, held him in
appreciation long ago. A great man.

I beseech you to believe on my word (and we have our information from
good and reliable sources), that the 'Times' newspaper built up its
political ideas on the broadest foundation of _lies_. I use the bare
word. You won't expel it, in the manner of the Paris Exhibition, for its
nudity--lies--not mistakes. For instance, while the very peasants here
are giving their crazie, the very labourers their day's work (once in a
week or so)--while everyone gives, and every man almost (who can go)
goes--the 'Times' says that Piedmont had derived neither paul nor
soldier from Tuscany. Tell me what people get by lying so? Faustus sold
himself to the Devil. Does Austria pay a higher price, I wonder?

Such things I could tell you--things to moisten your eyes--to wring that
burning eloquence of yours from your lips. But Robert waits to take this
letter. Penini has adorned our terrace with two tricolour flags, the
Italian tricolour and the French. May God bless you, dear friend. Speak
again for Italy. If you could see with what _eyes_ the Italian speaks of
the 'English.' Our love to you, Mr. and Mrs. Ruskin--if we may--because
we must. Write to us, do.

Ever affectionately yours,
R.B. and E.B.B.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

Florence: [about June 1859.]

My dearest Sarianna,--There is a breath of air giving one strength to
hold one's pen at this moment. How people can use swords in such
weather it's difficult to imagine. We have been melting to nothing, like
the lump of sugar in one's tea, or rather in one's lemonade, for tea
grows to be an abomination before the sun. The heat, which lingered
unusually, has come in on us with a rush of flame for some days past,
suggesting, however, the degree beyond itself, which is coming. We stay
on at Florence because we can't bear to go where the bulletin twice a
day from the war comes less directly; and certainly we shall stay till
we can't breathe here any more. On which contingency our talk is to go
somewhere for two months. Meanwhile we stay.

You can't conceive of the intense interest which is reigning here, you
can't realise it, scarcely. In Paris there is vivid interest, of course,
but that is from less immediate motives, except with persons who have
relations in the army. Here it is as if each one had a personal enemy in
the street below struggling to get up to him. When we are anxious we are
pale; when we are glad we have tears in our eyes. This 'unnecessary' and
'inexcusable' war (as it has been called in England) represents the only
hope of a nation agonising between death and life. You _talk_ about our
living or dying, but _we live or die_. That's the difference between you
and us.

We shall live, however. The hope is rising into triumph. Nobody any more
will say that the Italians fight ill. Remember that Garibaldi has with
him simply the _volunteers_ from all parts of Italy, not the trained
troops. He and they are heroic (as with such conviction and faith they
were sure to be), and the trained troops not less so. 'Worthy of
fighting side by side with the French,' says the Emperor; while the
French are worthy of their fame. 'The great military power' crumbles
before them, because souls are stronger than bodies always. There is no
such page of glory in the whole history of France. Great motives and
great deeds. The feeling of profound gratitude to Napoleon III., among
this people here, is sublime from its unanimity and depth....

All this excitement has made Florence quite unlike its quiet self, in
spite of the flight of many residents and nearly all travellers. Even we
have been stirred up to wander about more than our custom here. There's
something that forbids us to sit at home; we run in and out after the
bulletins, and to hear and give opinions; and then, in the rebound, we
have been caught and sent several times to the theatre (so unusual for
us) to see the great actor, Salvini, who is about to leave Florence. We
saw him in 'Othello' and in 'Hamlet,' and he was very great in both,
Robert thought, as well as I. Only his houses pine, because, as he says,
the 'true tragedies spoil the false,' and the Italians have given up the
theatres for the cafes at this moment of crisis....

In best love,
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


After Villafranca the immediate anxiety for news from the seat of war
naturally came to an end, and the Brownings were able to escape from the
heat of Florence to Siena, where they remained about three months.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

Siena: [July-August 1859].

Dearest Sarianna,--This to certify that I am alive after all; yes, and
getting stronger, and intending to be strong before long, though the
sense left to me is of a peculiar frailty of being; no very marked
opinion upon my hold of life. But life will last as long as God finds it
useful for myself and others--which is enough, both for them and me.

So well I was with all the advantages of Rome in me looking so well,
that I was tired of hearing people say so. But, though it may sound
absurd to you, it was the blow on the _heart_ about the peace after all
that excitement and exultation, that walking on the clouds for weeks and
months, and then the sudden stroke and fall, and the impotent rage
against all the nations of the earth--selfish, inhuman, wicked--who
forced the hand of Napoleon, and truncated his great intentions. Many
young men of Florence were confined to their beds by the emotion of the
news. As for me, I was struck, couldn't sleep, talked too much, and (the
intense heat rendering one more susceptible, perhaps) at last this bad
attack came on. Robert has been perfect to me. For more than a fortnight
he gave up all his nights' rest to me, and even now he teaches Pen. They
are well, I thank God. We stay till the end of September. Our Italians
have behaved magnificently, steadfast, confident, never forgetting
(except in the case of individuals, of course) their gratitude to France
nor their own sense of dignity. Things must end well with such a people.
Few would have expected it of the Italians. I hear the French ambassador
was present at the opening of the Chambers the other day at Florence,
which was highly significant.

I suppose you are by the sea, and I hope you and the dearest nonno are
receiving as much good from air and water as you desired. May God bless
you both.

Your ever affectionate Sister,
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

Villa Alberti, Siena: Wednesday [July-August 1859].

My ever dearest, kindest Isa,--I can't let another day go without
writing just a word to you to say that I am alive enough to love you. In
fact, dear, I am a great deal better; no longer ground to dust with
cough; able to sleep at nights; and preparing to-day to venture on a
little minced chicken, which I have resisted all the advances of
hitherto. This proves my own opinion of myself, at least. I am extremely
weak, reeling when I ought to walk, and glad of an arm to steer by. But
the attack is over; the blister to the side, tell Dr. Gresonowsky,
conquered the uneasiness there, and did me general good, I think. Now I
have only to keep still and quiet, and do nothing useful, or the
contrary, if possible, and not speak, and not vex myself more than is
necessary on politics. I had a letter from Jessie Mario, dated Bologna,
the other day, and feel a little uneasy at what she may be about there.
It was a letter not written in very good taste, blowing the trumpet
against all Napoleonists. Most absurd for the rest. Cavour had promised
L.N. Tuscany for his cousin as the price of his intervention in Italy;
and Prince Napoleon, finding on his arrival here that it 'wouldn't do,'
the peace was made in a huff.

Absurd, certainly.

Robert advises me not to answer, and it may be as well, perhaps.

I dreamed lately that I followed a mystic woman down a long suite of
palatial rooms. She was in white, with a white mask, on her head the
likeness of a crown. I knew she was Italy, but I couldn't see through
the mask. All through my illness political dreams have repeated
themselves, in inscrutable articles of peace and eternal provisional
governments. Walking on the mountains of the moon, hand in hand with a
Dream more beautiful than them all, then falling suddenly on the hard
earth-ground on one's head, no wonder that one should suffer. Oh, Isa,
the tears are even now in my eyes to think of it!

And yet I have hope, and the more I consider, the more I hope.

There will be no intervention to interfere with us in Tuscany, and there
is something _better behind_, which we none of us see yet.

We read to-day of the Florence elections. May God bless my Florence!

Dearest Isa, don't you fancy that you will get off with a day and night
here. No, indeed. Also, I would rather you waited till I could talk, and
go out, and enjoy you properly; and just now I am a mere rag of a Ba
hung on a chair to be out of the way.

Robert is so very kind as to hear Pen's lessons, which keeps me easy
about the child.

Heat we have had and have; but there's a great quantity of air--such
blowings as you boast of at your villa--and I like this good open air
and the quiet. I have seen nobody yet....

Dearest Isa, I miss you, and love you. How perfect you are to me always.

Robert's true love, with Pen's. And I may send my love to Miss Field,
may I not?

Yours, in tender affection,
BA.

Do write, and tell me everything.

Yes, England will do a little dabbling about constitutions and the like
where there's nothing to lose or risk; and why does Mrs. Trollope say
'God bless them' for it? _I_ never will forgive England the most
damnable part she has taken on Italian affairs, never. The pitiful cry
of 'invasion' is the continuation of that hound's cry, observe. Must we
live and bear?

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

Villa Alberti, Siena: August 24, 1859 [postmark].

Dearest Fanny,--This is only to say that I wrote to you before your
letter reached me, directing mine simply to the post-office of Cologne,
and that I write now lest what went before should miss for want of the
more specific address. Thank you, dear friend, for caring to hear of my
health; _that_, at least, _is_ pleasant. I keep recovering strength by
air, quiet, and asses' milk, and by hope for Italy, which consolidates
itself more and more.

You will wonder at me, but these public affairs have half killed me. You
know I _can't_ take things quietly. Your complaint and mine, Fanny, are
just opposite. For weeks and weeks, in my feverish state, I never closed
my eyes without suffering 'punishment' under eternal articles of peace
and unending lists of provisional governments. Do you wonder?

Observe--I believe entirely in the Emperor. He did at Villafranca what
he could not help but do. Since then, he has simply changed the arena of
the struggle; he is walking under the earth instead of on the earth, but
_straight_ and to unchanged ends.

This country, meanwhile, is conducting itself nobly. It is worthy of
becoming a great nation.

And God for us all!

So you go to England really? Which I doubted, till your letter came.

It is well that you did not spend the summer here, for the heat has been
ferocious; hotter, people from Corfu say, than it was ever felt there.
Italy, however, is apt to be hottish in the summer, as we know very
well.

The country about here, though not romantic like Lucca, is very pretty,
and our windows command sunsets and night winds. I have not stirred out
yet after three weeks of it; you may suppose how reduced I must be. I
could scarcely _stand_ at one time. The active evil, however, is ended,
and strength comes somehow or other. Robert has had the perfect goodness
not only to nurse me, but to teach Peni, who is good too, and rides a
pony just the colour of his curls, to his pure delight. Then we have
books and newspapers, English and Italian--the books from Florence--so
we do beautifully.

Mr. Landor is here. There's a long story. Absolute revolution and
abdication from the Florence villa. He appeared one day at our door of
Casa Guidi, with an oath on his soul never to go back. The end of it all
is, that Robert has accepted office as Landor's guardian (!!) and is to
'see to him' at the request of his family in England; and there's to be
an arrangement for Wilson to undertake him in a Florence apartment,
which she is pleased at. He visited the Storys, who are in a villa here
(the only inhabitants), and were very kind to him. Now he is in rooms in
a house not far from us, waiting till we return to Florence. I have seen
him only once, and then he looked better than he did in Florence, where
he seemed dropping into the grave, scarcely able to walk a hundred
yards. He longs for England, but his friends do not encourage his
return, and so the best that can be done for him must be. Now he is in
improved spirits and has taken to writing Latin alcaics on Garibaldi,
which is refreshing, I suppose.

Ask at the post-office for my letter, but don't fancy that it may be a
line more lively than this. No alcaics from me! One soul has gone from
me, at least, the soul that writes letters.

May God bless you, dearest, kindest Fanny. Love me a little. Don't leave
off feeling 'on private affairs' too much for _that_.

Robert's best love with that of your loving
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

Villa Alberti, Siena: August 26 [1859].

Dearest friend, what have you thought of me?

I was no more likely to write to you about the 'peace' than about any
stroke of personal calamity. The peace fell like a bomb on us all, and
for my part, you may still find somewhere on the ground splinters of my
heart, if you look hard. But by the time your letter reached me we had
recovered the blow _spiritually_, had understood that it was necessary,
and that the Emperor Napoleon, though forced to abandon one arena, was
prepared to carry on the struggle for Italy on another.

Therefore I should have answered your letter at once if I had not been
seized with illness. Indeed, my dear, dear friend, you will hear from me
no excuses. I have not been unkind, simply incapable.

I believe it was the violent mental agitation, the reaction from a state
of exultation and joy in which I had been walking among the stars so
many months; and the grief, anxiety, the struggle, the talking, all
coming on me at a moment when the ferocious heat had made the body
peculiarly susceptible; but one afternoon I went down to the Trollopes,
had sight of the famous Ducal orders about bombarding Florence, and came
home to be ill. Violent palpitations and cough; in fact, the worst
attack on the chest I ever had in Italy. For two days and two nights it
was more like _angina pectoris_, as I have heard it described; but this
went off, and the complaint ran into its ancient pattern, thank God, and
kept me _only_ very ill, with violent cough all night long; my poor
Robert, who nursed me like an angel, prevented from sleeping for full
three weeks. When there was a possibility I was lifted into a carriage
and brought here; stayed two days at the inn in Siena, and then removed
to this pleasant airy villa. Very ill I was after coming, and great
courage it required to come; but change of air was absolutely a
condition of living, and the event justified the risk. For now I am
quite myself, have done crying 'Wolf,' and end this lamentable history
by desiring you to absolve me for my silence. We have been here nearly a
month. My strength, which was so exhausted that I could scarcely stand
unsupported, is coming back satisfactorily, and the cough has ceased to
vex me at all. Still, I am not equal to driving out. I hope to take my
first drive in a very few days though, and the very asses are
ministering to me--in milk. All the English physicians had found it
convenient (the beloved Grand Duke being absent) to leave Florence, and
Zanetti was attending the Piedmontese hospitals, so that I had to attend
me none of the old oracles--only a Prussian physician (Dr. Gresonowsky),
a very intelligent man, of whom we knew a little personally, and who had
a strong political sympathy with me. (He and I used to sit together on
Isa Blagden's terrace and relieve ourselves by abusing each other's
country; and whether he expressed most moral indignation against England
or I against Prussia, remained doubtful.) Afterwards he came to cure me,
and was as generous in his profession as became his politics. People are
usually very kind to us, I must say. Think of that man following us to
Siena, uninvited, and attending me at the hotel two days, then refusing
recompense.

Well, now let me speak of our Italy and the peace. 'Immoral,' you say?
Yes, immoral. But not immoral on the part of Napoleon who had his hand
forced; only immoral on the part of those who by infamies of speech and
intrigue (in England and Germany), against which I for one had been
protesting for months, brought about the complicated results which
forced his hand. Never was a greater or more disinterested deed intended
and almost completed than this French intervention for Italian
independence; and never was a baser and more hideous sight than the
league against it of the nations. Let me not speak.

For the rest, if it were not for Venetia (Zurich[65] keeps its secrets
so far) the peace would have proved a benefit rather than otherwise. We
have had time to feel our own strength, to stand on our own feet. The
vain talk about Napoleon's intervening militarily on behalf of the Grand
Duke has simply been the consequence of statements without foundation
in the English and German papers; and also in some French Ultramontane
papers. Napoleon with his own lips, _after the peace_, assured our
delegates that no force should be used. And he has repeated this on
every possible occasion. At Villafranca, when the Emperor of Austria
insisted on the return of the Dukes, he acceded, on condition they were
recalled. He 'did not come to Italy to dispossess the sovereigns,' as he
had previously observed, but to give the power of election to the
people. Before we left Rome this spring he had said to the French
ambassador, 'If the Tuscans like to recall their Grand Duke, _qu'est-ce
que cela me fait_?' He simply said the same at Villafranca.

Count de Reiset was sent to Florence, Modena, and Parma, to
'_constater_,' not to '_impose_,' and the whole policy of Napoleon has
been to draw out a calm and full expression of the popular mind. Nobly
have the people of Italy responded. Surely there is not in history a
grander attitude than this assumed by a nation half born, half
constituted, scarcely named yet, but already capable of self-restraint
and dignity, and magnanimous faith. We are full of hope, and should be
radiant with joy, except for Venetia.

Dearest friend, the war did more than 'give a province to Piedmont.' The
first French charge _freed Italy potentially_ from north to south. At
this moment Austria cannot stir anywhere. Here 'we live, breathe, and
have our national being.' Certainly, if Napoleon did what the 'Times'
has declared he would do--intervene with armed force against the people,
prevent the elections, or _tamper_ with the elections by means of--such
means as he was 'familiar' with; if he did these things, I should cry
aloud, 'Immoral, vile, a traitor!' But the facts deny all these
imputations. He has walked steadily on along one path, and the
development of Italy as a nation is at the end of it.

Of course the first emotion on the subject of the peace was rage as
well as grief. For one day in Florence all his portraits and busts
disappeared from the shop windows; and I myself, to Penini's extreme
disgust (who insisted on it that his dear Napoleon couldn't do anything
wrong, and that the fault was in the telegraph), wouldn't let him wear
his Napoleon medal. Afterwards--as Ferdinando said--'Siamo stati un po'
troppo furiosi davvero, signora;' _that_ came to be the general
conviction. Out came the portraits again in the sun, and the Emperor's
bust, side by side with Victor Emanuel's, adorns the room of our
'General Assembly.' There are individuals, of course, who think that
through whatever amount of difficulty and complication, he should have
preserved his first programme. But these are not the wiser thinkers. He
had to judge for France as well as for Italy. As Mr. Trollope said to me
in almost the first fever, 'It is upon the cards that he has acted in
the wisest and most conscientious manner possible for all,--or it is on
the cards etc.'

The difficulty now is at Naples.

There will be a Congress, of course. A Congress was in the first
programme; after the war, a Congress.

But, dearest Mona Nina, if you want to get calumniated, hated, lied
upon, and spat upon (in a spiritual sense), try and do a good deed from
disinterested motives in this world. That's my lesson.

I have been told upon rather good authority that Cavour's retirement is
simply a feint, and that he will recover his position presently.

What weighs on my heart is Venetia. Can they do anything at Zurich to
modify that heavy fact?

You see I am not dead yet, dear, dearest friend. And while alive at all,
I can't help being in earnest on these questions. I am a Ba, you know.
Forgive me when I get too much 'riled' by your England.

You will know by this time that the 'proposition' you approved of was
French.

What made the very help of Prussia unacceptable to Austria was the
circumstance of Prussia's using that opportunity of Austria's need to
wriggle herself to the military headship of the Confederation. Austria
would rather have lost Lombardy (and more) than have accepted such a
disadvantage. Hence the coldness, the cause of which is scarcely
avowable. Selfish and pitiful nations!

Dear Isa Blagden writes me all the political news of Florence. She is
well, and will come to pay us a visit before long. We remain here till
September ends, and then return to Casa Guidi.

I had a letter from Bologna from Jessie, which threw me into a terror
lest the Mazzinians should come to Italy just in time to ruin us. The
letter (not unkind to me) was as contrary to facts and reason as
possible. I was too ill to write at the time, and Robert would not let
me answer it afterwards.

[_The remainder of this letter is missing._]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

Villa Alberti, Siena: September [1859].

My dearest Mrs. Martin,--As you talk of palpitations and the newspapers,
and then tell me or imply that you are confined for light and air to the
'Times' on the Italian question, I am moved with sympathy and compassion
for you, and anxious not to lose a post in answering your letter. My
dear, dear friends, I beseech you to believe _nothing_ which you have
read, are reading, or are likely to read in the 'Times' newspaper,
unless it contradicts all that went before. The criminal conduct of that
paper from first to last, and the immense amount of injury it has
occasioned in the world, make me feel that the hanging of the Smethursts
and Ellen Butlers would be irredeemable cruelty while these writers are
protected by the Law....

Of course you must feel perplexed. The paper takes up different sets of
falsities, quite different and contradictory, and treats them as facts,
and writes 'leaders' on them, as if they were facts. The reader, at
last, falls into a state of confusion, and sees nothing clearly except
that somehow or other, for something that he has done or hasn't done,
has intended or hasn't intended, Louis Napoleon is a rascal, and we
ought to hate him and his.

Well, leave the 'Times'--though from the 'Times' and the like base human
movements in England and Germany resulted, more or less directly, that
peace of Villafranca which threw us all here into so deep an anguish,
that I, for one, have scarcely recovered from it even to this day.

Let me tell you. We were living in a glow of triumph and gratitude; and
for me, it seemed to me as if I walked among the angels of a new-created
world. All faces at Florence shone with one thought and one love. You
can scarcely realise to yourself what it was at that time. Friends were
more than friends, and strangers were friends. The rapture of the
Italians--their gratitude to the French, the simple joy with which the
French troops understood (down to the privates) that they had come to
deliver their brothers, and to go away with empty hands; all these
things, which have been calumniated and denied, were wonderfully
beautiful. Scarcely ever in my life was I so happy. I was happy, not
only for Italy, but for the world--because I thought that this great
deed would beat under its feet all enmities, and lift up England itself
(at last) above its selfish and base policy. Then, on a sudden, came the
peace. It was as if a thunderbolt fell. For one day, every picture and
bust of the Emperor vanished, and the men who would have died for him,
before that sun, half articulated a curse on his head. But the next day
we were no longer mad, and as the days past, we took up hope again, and
the more thoughtful among our politicians began to understand the
situation. There was, however, a painful change. Before, difference of
opinion was unknown, and there was no sort of anxiety (a doubt of the
result of the war never crossing anyone's mind). Napoleon in the
thickest of the fire, with one epaulette shot off, was a symbol
intelligible to the whole population. But when he disappeared from the
field and entered the region of spirits and diplomats--when he walked
under the earth instead of on the surface--though he walked with equal
loyalty and uprightness, then people were sanguine or fearful according
to their temperament, and the English and Austrian newspapers,
attributing the worst motives and designs, troubled the thoughts of
many. Still, both the masses (with their blind noble faith), and the
leaders with their intelligence, held fast their hopes, and the
consequence has been the magnificent spectacle which this nation now
offers to Europe, and which for dignity, calm, and unanimous
determination may seek in vain for its parallel in history. Now we are
very happy again, full of hope and faith....

We shall probably go to Rome again for the winter, as Florence is
considered too cold. There will be disturbances that way in all
probability; but we are bold as to such things. The Pope is hard to
manage, even for the Emperor. It is hard to cut up a feather bed into
sandwiches with the finest Damascus blade, but the end will be attained
somehow. I wish I could see clearly about Venetia. There are intelligent
and thoughtful Italians who are hopeful even for Venetia, and certainly,
the Emperor of Austria's offer to Tuscany (not made to the Assembly, as
the 'Times' said, but murmured about by certain agents) implies a
consciousness on his part of holding Venetia, with a broken _wrist_ at
least.

As to the Duchies never for a moment did I believe in armed
intervention. Napoleon distinctly with his own lips promised our
delegates, after the peace, and before he left Italy, that he would
neither do it nor permit it. And afterwards, in Paris, again and again.
He accepted the Austrian proposition under the condition simply that
the Dukes were recalled by the people, not in defiance of the popular
will. He has been loyal throughout both to Austria and to Italy, and to
his own original programme, which did not contemplate dispossessing
sovereigns but freeing peoples.

Italy for the Italians--and so it will be. For Prince Napoleon, when he
was in Florence he might have remained there and delighted everybody. I
_know_ even that a person high in office felt the way towards a proposal
of the kind, and that he answered in a manner considered too
'_tranchant_,' 'No, no, _that_ would suit neither the Emperor nor
England; et pour moi, je ne le voudrais pas.' He used every opportunity
at that time of advising the fusion, about which people were much less
unanimous than they are now.

But calumny never dies (_like me_!). Mr. Russell, Lord John's nephew,
the quasi-minister at Rome, very acute, and liberal too (by the English
standard) being on his road to Rome from London last week proposed
paying us a visit, and we had him here two days (in a valuable spare
room!). He told me that Napoleon had been too _fin_ for the English
Government. He had _induced them to acknowledge the Tuscan
vote_--(observe that fact, dearest friends) induced them to acknowledge
the Tuscan vote; and now here was his game. He had forbidden Piedmont to
accept the fusion,[66] and therefore Piedmont must refuse. The
consequence of which would be that there must be another vote in
Tuscany, which would favor Prince Napoleon, and that we, having accepted
the first vote, must accept the second, the Emperor throwing up his
hands and crying, '_Who would have thought it?_'

We told him that he and the English Government were so far out in their
conclusions, that Piedmont, instead of refusing, would accept
conditionally; but he sighed, 'hoped it might be so,' in the way in
which preposterous opinions are civilly put away.

Scarcely was he gone, when the conditional acceptance was known.

How much more I could tell you. But one can't write all. The first
battle in the north of Italy freed Italy _potentially_ from north to
south. Our political life here in the centre is a proof of this. The
conduct of the Italians is admirable, but last year they _could not_
have assumed this attitude. They were a bound people. And even now, if
the Emperor removed his hand from Austria, we should have the foreign
intervention, and no hope.

We are ready and willing to fight, observe. The 'Times' may take back
its words. But to oppose the whole Austrian Empire with our unorganised,
however heroic, forces, is impossible. We might _die_, indeed....

May God bless both of you always! I have pretty good letters from home.
Home! what's home?

Your ever affectionate and grateful
BA.

Read 'La Foi des Traites'; it is from the hand of Louis Napoleon. So
that I was prepared for the amnesty and for what follows.

       *       *       *       *       *


The following letters to Mr. Chorley relate to Mrs. Browning's poem 'A
Tale of Villafranca,' which was published in the 'Athenaeum' for
September 24, and subsequently included in the volume of 'Poems before
Congress' (_Poetical Works_, iv. 195).

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Chorley_

Villa Alberti, Siena: September 12, [1859].

My dear Mr. Chorley,--This isn't a _letter_, as you will see at a
glance. I should have written to you long since, and have also sent this
poem (which solicits a place in the 'Athenaeum') if I had not been very
ill and been very slow in getting well. We wanted to answer your kind
letter, and shall. As for my poem, be so good as to see it put in, in
spite of its good and true politics, which you 'Athenaeum' people (being
English) will dissent from altogether. Say so, if you please, but let me
in. 'Strike, but hear me.' I have been living and dying for Italy
lately. You don't know how vivid these things are to us, which serve for
conversation at London dinner parties.

Ah--dear Mr. Chorley. The bad news about poor Lady Arnould will have
affected you as it did Robert a few days ago. I do pity so our unhappy
friend, Sir Joseph. Tell us, if you can and will, what you hear.

We came here from Florence five or six weeks since, when I was very
unfit for moving, but change of air and a cooler air and repose had
grown necessary. We are at a villa two miles from Siena, where we look
at scarlet sunsets, over purple hills, and have the wind nearly all day.
Mr. and Mrs. Story are half a mile off in another villa, and Mr. Landor
at a stone's cast. Otherwise the solitude is absolute. Mr. Russell spent
two days with us on his way to resume office at Rome. I should remember
that....

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Chorley_

Siena: Sunday [September-October 1859].

Thank you, my dear Mr. Chorley, I submit gratefully to being snubbed for
my politics. In return I will send to your private ear an additional
stanza which should interpose as the real _seventh_ but was left out. I
did not send it to you the day after my note, though sorely tempted to
do so, because it seemed to me likely to annul any small chance of
'Athenaeum' tolerance which might fall to me. Would it have done so, do
you think?

    'A great deed in this world of ours!
      Unheard of the pretence is.
    It plainly threatens the Great Powers;
      Is fatal in all senses.
    A just deed in the world! Call out
    The rifles! ... be not slack about
      The National Defences.'

Certainly if I don't guess 'the Sphinx' right, some of your English
guessers in the 'Times' and elsewhere fail also, as events prove. The
clever 'Prince-Napoleon-for-Central-Italy' guess,[67] for instance, has
just fallen through, by declaration of the 'Moniteur.' Most absurd it
was always. At one time the Prince might have taken the crown by
acclamation. He was almost _rude_ about it when he was in Tuscany. And
even after the peace, members of the present Government were not averse,
were much the contrary indeed. At that time the autonomy was still dear,
we had not made up our minds to the fusion. Now, _e altra cosa_, and to
imagine that a man like the French Emperor would have waited till now,
producing, by the opportunities he has given, the present complication,
_in order_ to impose the Prince, is absurd on the very face of it.

While standers-by guess, the comfort is that circumstances ripen. We are
in spirits about our Italy. The dignity, the constancy, the calm, are
admirable, as the unanimity of the people is wonderful. Even the
contadini have rallied to the Government, and the cry of enthusiasm to
which the cross of Savoy was uncovered in the market place of Siena
yesterday was a thrilling thing. Also we will fight, be it understood,
whenever fighting shall be necessary. At present, the right arm of
Austria is broken; she cannot hold the sword since Solferino, at least
in central Italy. Let those who doubt our debt to France remember where
we were last year, and see what our political life is now--real, vivid,
unhindered! Our moral qualities are our own, but our practical
opportunities come from another; we could not have made them by force of
moral qualities, great as those are allowed to be. And how striking the
growth of this people since 1848. Massimo d' Azeglio said to Robert and
me, 'It is '48 over again with matured actors.' But it is even more than
that: it is '48 over again with regenerated actors. All internal
jealousies at an end, all suspicions quenched, all selfish policies
dissolved. Florence forgets herself for Italy. This is grand. Would that
England, that pattern of moral nations, would forget herself for the
sake of something or someone beyond. _That_ would be grand.

I wish you were here, my dear Mr. Chorley, since I am wishing in vain,
though we are almost at the close of our stay in this pretty country. We
have a villa with beautiful sights from all the windows; and there, on
the hill opposite, live Mr. and Mrs. Story, and within a stone's throw,
in a villino, lives the poor old lion Landor, who, being sorely buffeted
by his family at Fiesole, far beyond 'kissing with tears' (though Robert
did what he could), took refuge with us at Casa Guidi one day,
broken-hearted and in wrath. He stays here while we stay, and then goes
with us to Florence, where Robert has received the authorisation of his
English friends to settle him in comfort in an apartment of his own,
with my late maid, Wilson (who married our Italian man-servant), to take
care of him; and meanwhile the quiet of this place has so restored his
health and peace of mind that he is able to write awful Latin alcaics,
to say nothing of hexameters and pentameters, on the wickedness of
Louis Napoleon. Yes, dear Mr. Chorley, poems which might appear in the
'Athenaeum' without disclaimer, and without injury to the reputation of
that journal.

Am I not spiteful? I assure you I couldn't be spiteful a short time ago,
so very ill I have been. Now it is different, and every day the strength
returns. What remains, however, is a certain necessity of not facing the
Florence wind this winter, and of going again to Rome, in spite of
probable revolutions there. We talk of going in the early part of
November. Why won't you come to Rome and give us meeting? Foolish
speech, when I know you won't. We shall be in Florence probably at the
end of the present week, to stay there until the journey further south
begins. I shall regret this silence. And little Penini too will have his
regrets, for he has been very happy here, made friends with the
contadini, has helped to keep the sheep, to run after straggling cows,
to play at '_nocini_' (did you ever hear of that game?) and to pick the
grapes at the vintage--driving in the grape-carts (exactly of the shape
of the Greek chariots), with the grapes heaped up round him; and then
riding on his own pony, which Robert is going to buy for him (though
Robert never spoils him; no, not he, it is only _I_ who do that!),
galloping through the lanes on this pony the colour of his curls. I was
looking over his journal (Pen keeps a journal), and fell on the
following memorial which I copy for you--I must.

'This is the happiest day of my hole (_sic_) life, for now dearest
Vittorio Emanuele is really _nostro re_.'

Pen's weak point does not lie in his politics, Mr. Chorley, but in his
spelling. When his contadini have done their day's work he takes it on
him to read aloud to them the poems of the revolutionary Venetian poet
Dall' Ongaro, to their great applause. Then I must tell you of his
music. He is strong in music for ten years old--and plays a sonata of
Beethoven already (in E flat--opera 7) and the first four books of
Stephen Heller; to say nothing of various pieces by modern German
composers in which there is need of considerable execution. Robert is
the maestro, and sits by him two hours every day, with an amount of
patience and persistence really extraordinary. Also for two months back,
since I have been thrown out of work, Robert has heard the child all his
other lessons. Isn't it very, very good of him?

Do write to us and tell me how your sister is, and also how you are in
spirits and towards the things of the world? Give her my love--will you?

I had a letter some time ago from poor Jessie Mario, from Bologna.
Respect her. She hindered her husband from fighting with Garibaldi for
his country, because Garibaldi fought under L.N., which was so highly
improper. Her letter was not unkind to me, but altogether and insanely
wrong as I considered. (Not more wrong though, and much less wicked,
than the 'Times.') I was too ill at the time to answer it, and
afterwards Robert would not let me, but I should have liked to do it;
it's such a comfort to a woman (and a man?) to _sfogarsi_, as we say
here. Also, I was really uneasy at what might be doing at Bologna; so,
in spite of friendship, it was a relief to me to hear of the police
taking charge of all overt possibilities in that direction.

Is it really true that 'Adam Bede' is the work of Miss Evans? The woman
(as I have heard of her) and the author (as I read her) do not hold
together. May God bless you, my dear friend! Robert shall say so for
himself.

Ever affectionately yours,
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

My dear Mr. Chorley,--Reading over what I have written I find that I
have been so basely ungrateful as not to say the thing I would when I
would thank you. Your _Dedication_ will be accepted with a true sense of
kindness and honor together; I shall be proud and thankful. But perhaps
you have changed your mind in the course of this long silence.

And now where's room for Robert?

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

Villa Alberti, [Siena]:
Tuesday [September-October, 1859].

Ever dearest Isa,--Yes, I am delighted.

Evviva il nostro re! It isn't a very distinct acceptance, however, but
as distinct as could be expected reasonably.[68] Under conditions, of
course.

On Friday morning before noon up to our door came Mr. Russell's
carriage. He had closed with Robert's proposition at once, and we made
room for him without much difficulty, and were very glad to see him. I
didn't go in to dinner, and he and Robert went to the Storys in the
evening--so that it wasn't too much for me--and then I really like
him--he is refined and amiable, and acute and liberal (as an Englishman
can be), full of 'traditions' or prejudices, to use the right word. To
my surprise he _knew_ scarcely anything; and, as I modestly observed to
Robert, 'didn't understand the Italian question half as well as I
understand it.' Of course there was a quantity of gossip in the
anti-Napoleon sense; how the Emperor told the King of the peace over the
soup, twirling his moustache; and how the King swore like a trooper at
the Emperor in consequence; and how the Emperor took it all very
well--didn't mind at all and how, and how--things which are manifestly
impossible and which Robert tells me I ought not to repeat, in order not
to multiply such vain tales. There is Metternich the younger (ambassador
in Paris), a personal friend of Odo Russell's, in whose bosom Louis
Napoleon seems to pour the confidences of his heart about that '_coquin
de Cavour_ who led him into the Italian war,' &c., &c., but it simply
proves to you and me how an Austrian can lie, which we could guess
before.

My _facts_ are these: First, Ferdinando IV.[69] has an ambassador in
Rome, who has been received officially by the Pope (!!) ('The coolest
thing that ever was'), and is paid out of the private purse of the Royal
Highness. There is another ambassador at Naples, and another at
Vienna--on the same terms; so let no one talk of 'Decheance.'

Then let me tell you what Mr. Russell said to me. 'Napoleon,' said he,
'has been too _fin_ for the English Government. He made us acknowledge
the Tuscan vote. Now he has strictly forbidden Piedmont to accept, and
Piedmont must therefore refuse. The consequences of which will be that
there must be another vote in Tuscany, by which Prince Napoleon will be
elected; and we, having acknowledged the first vote, must acknowledge
the second.'

Of course I protested; disbelieved in the forbidding, and believed in
the accepting. He 'hoped it might be so'--in the civil way with which
people put away preposterous opinions--and left us on Saturday night at
ten, just too late to hear of the 'fait accompli.'

Out of all _that_, I rescue my fact that _Napoleon made the English
Government acknowledge the Tuscan vote_.

Don't let Kate put any of this into American papers, because Mr. Russell
was our guest, observe, and spoke trustingly to us. He had just arrived
from England, and went on to Rome without further delay.

The word _Venice_ makes my heart beat. Has Guiducci any grounds for hope
about Venice? If Austria could be _bought_ off at any price! Something
has evidently been promised at Villafranca on the subject of Venice; and
evidently the late strengthening of the hands of Piedmont will render
the Austrian occupation on any terms more and more difficult and
precarious.

I should agree with you on Prince Napoleon, if it were not that I want
the Emperor's disinterestedness to remain in its high place. We can't
spare great men and great deeds out of the honour of the world. There
are so few.

For the rest, the Prince would have been a popular and natural choice at
one time, and as far as central Italy was concerned. Also he is very
liberal in opinion, and full of ideas, I have been told.

But the fusion is a wiser step _now,_ and altogether--even if we could
spare the Emperor's fame. Do you remember the obloquy he suffered for
Neufchatel? and how it came out that, if he pressed his conditions, it
was simply because he meant to fight for the independence of the State?
and how at last the Swiss delegates went to Paris to offer their
gratitude for the deliverance he had attained for the people? His
loyalty will come out clean before the eyes of his enemies now as then.
We agree absolutely. And Robert does not dissent, I think. Facts begin
to be conclusive to him.

You are an angel, dearest Isa, with the tact of a woman of the world.
This in reference to the note you sent me, and your answer. You could
not have done better--not at all.

Our kind love to Kate--and mind you give our regards to Dr. Gresonowsky.
Also to Mr. Jarves--poor Mr. Jarves--how sorry I am about the pictures!

Robert will write another time, he says, 'with kindest love.'

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[Siena: September-October, 1859.]

My dearest Sarianna,--We are on the verge of returning to Florence, for
a short time--only to pack up, I believe, and go further south--to 'meet
the revolution,' tell the dearest Nonno, with my love. The case is that
though I am really convalescent and look well (Robert has even let me
take to Penini a little, which is conclusive), it is considered
dangerous for me to run the risk of even a Florence winter. You see I
have been _very_ ill. The physician thought there was pressure of the
lungs on the _heart_, and, under those circumstances, that I _must_
avoid irritation of the lungs by any cold. Say nothing which can reach
my sisters and frighten them; and after all I care very little about
doctors, except that I do know myself how hard renewals of the late
attack would go with me. But I mean to take care, and use God's
opportunities of getting strong again. Also it seems to me that I have
taken a leap within these ten days, and that the strength comes back in
a fuller tide. After all, it is not a cruel punishment to us to have to
go to Rome again this winter, though it will be an undesirable expense,
and though we did wish to keep quiet this winter, the taste for constant
wanderings having passed away as much for me as for Robert. We begin to
see that by no possible means can one spend as much money to so small an
end. And then we don't work so well--don't live to as much use, either
for ourselves or others. Isa Blagden bids us observe that we pretend to
live at Florence, and are not there much above two months in the year,
what with going away for the summer and going away for the winter. It's
too true. It's the drawback of Italy. To live in one place here is
impossible for us almost, just as to live out of Italy at all is
impossible for us. It isn't caprice--that's all I mean to say--on our
part.

Siena pleases us very much. The silence and repose have been heavenly
things to me, and the country is very pretty, though no more than
pretty--nothing marked or romantic, no mountains (did you fancy us on
the mountains?) except so far off as to be like a cloud only, on clear
days, and no water. Pretty, dimpled ground, covered with low vineyards;
purple hills, not high, with the sunsets clothing them. But I like the
place, and feel loth to return to Florence from this half-furnished
villa and stone floors. The weather is still very hot, but no longer
past bearing, and we are enjoying it, staying on from day to day. Robert
proposed Palermo instead of Rome, but I shrink a little from the
prospect of our being cut up into mincemeat by patriotic Sicilians,
though the English fleet (which he reminds me of) might obtain for you
and for England the most 'satisfactory compensation' of the pecuniary
kind. At Rome I shall not be frightened, knowing my Italians. Then there
will be more comfort, and, besides, no horrible sea-voyage. Some
Americans have told us that the Mediterranean is twice as bad as the
Atlantic. I always thought it _twice as bad as anything_, as people say
elegantly. We shall not leave Florence till November. Robert must see W.
Landor (his adopted son, Sarianna) settled in his new apartment, with
Wilson for a duenna. It's an excellent plan for him, and not a bad one
for Wilson. He will pay a pound (English) a week for his three rooms,
and she is to receive twenty-two pounds a year for the care she is to
take of him, besides what is left of his rations. Forgive me if Robert
has told you this already. Dear darling Robert amuses me by talking of
his 'gentleness and sweetness.' A most courteous and refined gentleman
he is, of course, and very affectionate to Robert (as he ought to be),
but of self-restraint he has not a grain, and of suspiciousness many
grains. Wilson will run certain risks, and I for one would rather not
meet them. What do you say to dashing down a plate on the floor when you
don't like what's on it? And the contadini at whose house he is lodging
now have been already accused of opening desks. Still, upon that
occasion (though there was talk of the probability of Landor's throat
being 'cut in his sleep'), as on other occasions, Robert succeeded in
soothing him, and the poor old lion is very quiet on the whole, roaring
softly, to beguile the time, in Latin alcaics against his wife and Louis
Napoleon. He laughs carnivorously when I tell him that one of these
days he will have to write an ode in honour of the Emperor, to please
_me_.

Little Pen has been in the utmost excitement lately about his pony,
which Robert is actually going to buy for him. I am said to be the
spoiler, but mark! I will confess to you that, considering how we run to
and fro, it never would have entered into the extravagance of my love to
set up a pony for Penini. When I heard of it first, I opened my eyes
wide, only no amount of discretion on my part could enable me to take
part against both Pen and Robert in a matter which pleases Pen. I hope
they won't combine to give me an Austrian daughter-in-law when Peni is
sixteen. So I say 'Yes,' 'Yes,' 'Certainly,' and the pony is to be
bought, and carried to Rome (fancy that!), and we are to hunt up some
small Italian princes and princesses to ride with him at Rome (I object
to Hatty Hosmer, who has been thrown thirty times[70]). In fact, Pen has
been very coaxing about the pony. He has beset Robert in private and
then, as privately, entreated me, 'if papa spoke to me about the pony,
not to _discourage_ him.' So I discouraged nobody, but am rather
triumphantly glad, upon the whole, that we have done such a very
foolish, extravagant thing.

Robert will have told you, I am sure, what a lovely picture Mr. Wilde,
the American artist (staying with the Storys), has made of Penini on
horseback, and presented to me. It is to be exhibited in the spring in
London, but before then, either at Rome or Florence, we will have a
photograph made from it to send you. By the way, Mr. Monroe failed us
about the photograph from the bust. He said he had tried in vain once,
but would try again. The child is no less pretty and graceful than he
was, and he rides, as he does everything, with a grace which is
striking. He gallops like the wind, and with an absolute
fearlessness--he who is timid about sleeping in a room by himself, poor
darling. He has had a very happy time here (besides the pony) having
made friends with all the contadini, who adore him, and helped them to
keep the sheep, catch the stray cows, drive the oxen in the grape-carts,
and to bring in the vintage generally, besides reading and expounding
revolutionary poems to them at evening. The worst of it was, while it
lasted, that he ate so many grapes he could eat nothing else whatever.
Still, he looks rosy and well, and there's nothing to regret....

Robert has let his moustache and beard grow together, and looks very
picturesque. I thought I should not like the moustache, but I do. He is
in very good looks altogether, though, in spite of remonstrances, he has
given up walking before breakfast, and doesn't walk at any time half
enough. _I_ was in fault chiefly, because he both sate up at night with
me and kept by me when I was generally ill in the mornings. So I
oughtn't to grumble--but I do.... Love to dear M. Milsand. We are in
increasing spirits on Italian affairs.

Your very affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


In October they returned to Florence, though only for about six weeks,
before moving on to Rome for the winter.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

[Florence]: Casa Guidi: Friday [October 1859].

Ever dearest Mona Nina,--Here we are at our Florence, very thankful for
the advantages of our Siena residence. God has been kind. When I think
how I went away and how I came back, it seems to me wonderful. For the
latter fortnight the tide of life seemed fairly to set in again, and now
I am quite well, if not as strong--which, of course, could not be in the
time. My doctor opened his eyes to see me yesterday so right in looks
and ways. But we spend the winter in Rome, because the great guns of the
revolution (and even the small daggers) will be safer to encounter than
any sort of tramontana. To tell you the truth, dearest friend, there
have been moments when I have 'despaired of the republic'--that is,
doubted much whether I should ever be quite well again; I mean as
tolerably well as it is my normal state to be. So severe the attack was
altogether.

As to political affairs, I will use the word of Penini's music-master
when asked the other day how they went on--'_Divinamente_,' said he.
Things are certainly going _divinamente_. I observe that, while
politicians by profession, by the way, have various opinions, and hope
and fear according to their temperaments, _the people_ here are steadily
sanguine, distrusting nobody if it isn't a Mazzinian or a codino, and
looking to the end with a profound interest, of course, but not any
inquietude. '_Divinamente_' things are going on.

There is an expectation, indeed, of fighting, but only with the Pope's
troops (and we all know what a '_soldato del papa_' means), or with such
mongrel defenders as can be got up by the convicts of Modena or Tuscany
to give us an occasion of triumph presently. The expected outburst in
Sicily and the Neapolitan States will simply extend the movement. That's
_our_ way of thinking and hoping. May God defend the right!

Mr. Probyn, a Liberal M.P., has come out here to appreciate the
situation, and said last night that, after visiting the north of Italy
and speaking with the chiefs, he is full of hope. Not quite so is
Cartwright, whom you know, and who came to us at Siena. But Mr.
Cartwright exceeds Dr. Cumming in the view of Napoleon, who isn't
Antichrist to him, but is assuredly the devil. I like Mr. Cartwright,
observe, but I don't like his modes of political thinking, which are
'after the strictest sect' and the reddest-tape English. He and his
family are gone to Rome, and find the whole city 'to be hired.' Family
men in general are not likely to go there this winter, and we shall find
the coast very clear. And _you_--dearest friend, you seem to have given
up Italy altogether this winter. Unless you come to Rome, we shall not
be the better for your crossing the Alps. The Eckleys have settled in
Florence till next year. The Perkinses also. Isa Blagden is at her
villa, which, if she lets, she may pay Miss Cushman a visit in Rome
towards the spring, but scarcely earlier.

After the dreary track of physical discomfort was passed, I enjoyed
Siena much, and so did Robert, and the next time we have to spend a
summer in Tuscany we shall certainly turn our faces that way. When able
to drive, I drove about with Robert and enjoyed the lovely country; and
once, on the last day, I ventured into the gallery and saw the divine
Eve of Sodoma for the second time. But I never entered the
cathedral--think of that! There were steps to be mounted. But I have the
vision of it safe within me since nine years ago. The Storys, let me
remember to tell you gratefully, were very kind and very delicate,
offering all kindnesses I could receive, and no other....

Did I tell you that Jessie Mario had written to me from Romagna? You
know, in any case, that she and her husband were arrested subsequently
and sent into Switzerland. The other day I had two printed letters from
the newspaper 'Evening Star,' enclosed to me by herself or her brother,
I suppose--one the production of her husband, and one of Brofferio the
advocate. I thought both were written in a detestable spirit, attempting
to throw an odium on the governments of central Italy, which they should
all three have rather died in their own poor personal reputations than
have wished to hazard under present circumstances. Mazzini and his party
have only to keep still, if _indeed_ they do _not_ desire to swamp the
great Italian cause. Every movement made by them is a gain to Austria--a
clear gain. Every word spoken by them, even if it applaud us, goes
against the cause! Whoever has a conscience among them, let him consider
this and be still....

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

Casa Guidi: November 2 [1859].

My dearest Fanny,--I this moment receive your letter, and hasten to
answer it lest I should be too late for you in Paris. Dear Fanny, you
seem in a chronic transitional state; it's always _crisis_ with you. I
can't _advise_; but I do rather _wonder_ that you don't go at once to
England and see your friends till you can do your business.... You can
get at pictures in England and at artistic society also if you please;
and making a _slancio_ into Germany or to Paris would not be impossible
to you occasionally.

Does this advice sound _too_ disinterested on my part? Never think so.
We only stand ourselves on one foot in Florence--forced to go away in
the summer; forced to go away in the winter. Robert was so persuaded
even last winter (before my illness) of my being better at Rome that he
would have taken an apartment there and furnished it, except that I
prevented him. Then we have calls from the north, and on most summers we
must be in England and Paris. To stay on through the summer in Florence
is impossible to us at least. Think of thermometers being a hundred and
two in the shade this year! So I consider your case dispassionately, and
conclude _we_ are not worth your consideration in reference to prospects
connected with any place. We are rolling stones gathering no moss.
There's no use for anyone to run after us; but we may roll anyone's way.
I say this, penetrated by your affectionate feeling for us. May God
bless you and keep you, my dear friend.

As for me, I have been nearly as ill as possible--that's the
truth--suffering so much that the idea of the evil's recurrence makes me
feel nervous. All the Italians who came near me gave me up as a lost
life; but God would not have it so this time, and my old vitality proved
itself strong still. At present I am remarkably well; I had a return of
threatening symptoms a fortnight ago, but they passed. I think I had
been talking too much. Now I feel quite as free and well as usual about
the chest, and 'buoyant' as to general spirits. Affairs in Italy seem
going well, and Napoleon does not forget us, whatever his townsfolk of a
certain class may do. The French newspapers remember us well, I am happy
to see, also. But, my dear Fanny, who am I to give letters to Garibaldi?
I don't know him, nor does he know _me_. Have you acquaintance with
Madame Swartz? _She_ could help Mr. Spicer. But she has just gone to
Rome. And _we_ are going to Rome. Did not Sarianna tell you that? We go
on my account to avoid the tramontana here. People say we are foolhardy
on account of the state of the country; but you are aware we are no more
frightened of revolutions than M. Charles is of the tiger. Prices at
Rome will be more reasonable at any rate. Nobody pays high for a
probability of being massacred. What I'm most afraid of after all is
lest the 'Holiness of our Lord' should agree to reform at the last
moment. It's too late; it must be too late--it ought to be too late....

Poor Mr. Landor is in perfect health and in rather good spirits, seeming
reconciled to his fate of exile. In the summer he moaned over it sadly,
'never could be happy except in England'; and I rather leant to sending
him back, I confess. But Mr. Forster and other friends seemed to think
that if he went back he could never be kept from the attack, all would
come over again; and really that was probable. Still, I feared for him
before he went to Siena. It does not do to shake hour-glasses at his
age, and though he had been acclimated here by an eleven years'
residence, still--well; there was nothing for it but to keep him here.
He sighs a little still that it 'does not agree with him,' and that
Florence is a 'very ugly town,' and so on; but still he is evidently
much stronger than when he went to Siena, can walk for an hour together
(instead of failing at the end of the street), and looks quite vigorous
with his snow-white beard and moustache, through which the carnivorous
laugh runs and rings. He doesn't know yet we are going away. He will
miss Robert dreadfully. Robert's goodness to him has really been
apostolical. And think of the effect of a goodness which can quote at
every turn of a phrase something from an author's book! Isn't it more
bewitching than other goodnesses? To certain authors, that is....

Dearest Fanny, keep up your spirits, _do_. Write to me to say you are
less sad. And love not less your

Affectionate
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Chorley_

Casa Guidi: November 25 [1859].

My dear Friend,--I thank you with all my heart for your most graceful
and touching dedication,[71] and do assure you that I feel it both as
honour and as pleasure.

And yet, do you know, Robert says that you might peradventure, by the
dedication of your book to me, mean a covert lecture, or sarcasm, who
knows? Even if you did, the kindness of the personal address would make
up for it. Who wouldn't bear both lecture and sarcasm from anyone who
begins by speaking _so_? Therefore I am honoured and pleased and
grateful all the same--yes, and _will_ be.

But, dear Mr. Chorley, you don't silence me, notwithstanding. The spell
of your dedication hasn't fastened me up in an oak for ever. Your book
is very clever; your characters very incisively given; princess and
patriots admirably cut out (and up!); half truths everywhere, to which
one says 'How true!' But one might as well (and better) say 'How false!'
seeing that, dear Mr. Chorley, it does really take two halves to make a
whole, and we know it. The whole truth is not here--not even suggested
here--and let me add that the half truth on this occasion is cruel.

One thing is ignored in the book. Under all the ridiculousness, under
all the wickedness even of such men and women, lies _a cause_, a right
inherent, a wrong committed. The cant presupposes a doctrine, and the
pretension a real heroism. Your best people (in your book) seem to have
no notion of this. Your heroine deserves to be a victim, not because she
was rash and ignorant, but because she was selfish and foolish. The
world wasn't lost for her because she loved--either a cause or a
man--but because she wanted change and excitement. If she had felt on
the abstract question as I have known women to feel, even when they have
acted like fools, I should pity her more. As it is, the lesson was
necessary. If she had not married rashly an Italian _birbante_ she would
have married rashly an English blackguard, and I myself see small
difference in the kinds. With _you_, however, to your mind, it is
different; and in this view of yours seems to me to lie the main fault
of your book. You evidently think that God made only the English. The
English are a peculiar people. Their worst is better than the best of
the exterior nations. Over the rest of the world He has cast out His
shoe. Even supposing that a foreigner does, by extraordinary exception,
some good thing, it's only in reaction from having murdered somebody
last year, or at least left his children to starve the year before.
Truth, generosity, nobleness of will and mind, these things do not exist
beyond the influence of the 'Times' newspaper and the 'Saturday Review.'
(By the way, it would be extraordinary if it _were so_.')

Well, I have lived thirteen years on the Continent, and, far as England
is from Italy, far as the heavens are from the earth, I dissent from
you, dissent from you, dissent from you.

I say so, and there is an end. It is relief to me, and will make no
impression on you; but for my sake you permit me to say it, I feel sure.

Dear Mr. Chorley, Robert and I have had true pleasure (in spite of all
this fault-finding) in feeling ourselves close to you in your book.
Volume after volume we have exchanged, talking of you, praising you
here, blaming you there, but always feeling pleasure in reading your
words and speaking your name. Don't say it's the last novel. You, who
can do so much. Write us another at once rather, doing justice to our
sublime Azeglios and acute Cavours and energetic Farinis. If I could
hear an English statesman (Conservative or Liberal) speak out of a large
heart and generous comprehension as I did Azeglio this last spring, I
should thank God for it. I fear I never shall. My boy may, perhaps. Red
tape has garrotted this political generation....

I persist in being in high hopes for my Italy.

Ever affectionately yours
ELIZABETH B. BROWNING.

       *       *       *       *       *


Early in December the move to Rome took place, and they found rooms at
28 Via del Tritone. During the winter Mrs. Browning was preparing for
the press her last volume, the 'Poems before Congress,' while her
husband, in a fit of disinclination to write poetry, occupied himself by
trying his hand at sculpture.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[Rome: December 1859.]

Dearest Sarianna,--Robert will have told you of the success of our
journey, which the necessities of Mr. Landor very nearly pushed back
into the cold too late. We had even resolved that if the wind changed
before morning we would accept it 'as a sign' and altogether give up
Rome. We were all but run to ground, you see. Happily it didn't end so;
and here we are in a very nice sunny apartment, which would have been
far beyond our means last year or any year except just now when the
Pope's obstinacy and the rumoured departure of the French have left Rome
a solitude and called it peace--very problematical peace. (Peni, in
despair at leaving Florence, urged on us that 'for mama to have cold air
in her chest would be better than to have a cannon-ball in her stomach';
but she was unreasonably more afraid of one than of the other.)
Apartments here for which friends of ours paid forty pounds English the
month last winter are going for fifteen or under--or rather not
going--for nobody scarcely comes to take them. The Pope's 'reforms' seem
to be limited, in spite of his alarming position, which is breaking his
heart, he told a friend of Mrs. Stowe's the other day, and out of which
he looks to be relieved only by some special miracle (the American was
quite affected to hear the old man bewail himself!), to an edict against
crinolines, the same being forbidden to sweep the sacred pavement of St.
Peter's. This is _true_, though it sounds like a joke.

Even Florence has very few English. A crisis is looked for everywhere.
Prices there are rising fast; but one is prepared to pay more for
liberty. Carriages are dearer than in Paris by our new tariff, which is
an item important to me. We left Mr. Landor in great comfort. I went to
see his apartment before it was furnished. Rooms small, but with a look
out into a little garden; quiet and cheerful; and he doesn't mind a
situation rather out of the way. He pays four pound ten (English) the
month. Wilson has _thirty_ pounds a year for taking care of him, which
sounds a good deal; but it _is_ a difficult position. He has excellent,
generous, affectionate impulses, but the impulses of the tiger every now
and then. Nothing coheres in him, either in his opinions, or I fear,
affections. It isn't age; he is precisely the man of his youth, I must
believe. Still, his genius gives him the right of gratitude on all
artists at least, and I must say that my Robert has generously paid the
debt. Robert always said that he owed more as a writer to Landor than to
any contemporary. At present Landor is very fond of him; but I am quite
prepared for his turning against us as he has turned against Forster,
who has been so devoted for years and years. Only one isn't kind for
what one gets by it, or there wouldn't be much kindness in this world.

I keep well; and of course, at Rome there is more chance for me than
there was in Florence; but I hated to inflict an unpopular journey, of
which the advantage was solely mine. Poor Peni said that if he had to
leave his Florence he would rather go to Paris than to Rome. I dare say
he would. Then his Florentines frightened him with ideas of the awful
massacre we were to be subjected to here. The pony travelled like a
glorified Houyhnhnm and we have brought a second male servant to take
care of him. It was an economy; for the wages of Rome are inordinate.
Pen's tender love to his nonno and you with that of

Your ever affectionate sister,
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

[Rome]: 28 Via Tritone: Friday [winter 1859].

My dearest Fanny,--Set me down as a wretch, but hear me. I have been ill
again, in the first place; then as weak as a rag in consequence, and
then with business accumulated on impotent hands; proofs to see to, and
the like. You may have heard in the buzz of newspapers of certain
presentation _swords_, subscribed for by twenty thousand Romans, at a
franc each, and presented in homage and gratitude to Napoleon III. and
Victor Emmanuel. Castellani[72] of course was the artist, and the whole
business had to be huddled up at the end, because of his Holiness
denouncing all such givers of gifts as traitors to the See. So just as
the swords had to be packed up and disappear, some one came with a shut
carriage to take me for a sight of these most exquisite works of art. It
was five o'clock in the evening and raining, but not cold, so that the
whole world here agreed it couldn't hurt me. I went with Robert
therefore; we were received at Castellani's most flatteringly as poets
and lovers of Italy; were asked for autographs; and returned in a blaze
of glory and satisfaction, to collapse (as far as I'm concerned) in a
near approach to mortality. You see I can't catch a simple cold. All my
bad symptoms came back. Suffocations, singular heart-action, cough
tearing one to atoms. A gigantic blister, however, let me crawl out of
bed at the end of a week, and the advantage of a Roman climate _told_, I
dare say, for the attack was less violent and much less long than the
one in the summer. Only I feel myself brittle, and become aware, of
increased susceptibility. Dr. Gresonowsky warns me against Florence in
the winter. I must be warm, they say. Well, never mind! Now I am well
again, and I don't know why I should have whined so to you. I am well,
and living on asses' milk by way of sustaining the mental calibre; yes,
and able to have _tete-a-tetes_ with Theodore Parker, who believes
nothing, you know, and has been writing a little Christmas book for the
young just now, to prove how they should keep Christmas without a
Christ, and a Mr. Hazard, a spiritualist, who believes everything, walks
and talks with spirits, and impresses Robert with a sense of veracity,
which is more remarkable. I like the man much. He holds the subject on
high grounds, takes the idea and lives on it above the earth. For years
he has given himself to investigation, and has seen the Impossible.
Certainly enough Robert met him and conversed with him, and came back to
tell me what an intelligent and agreeable new American acquaintance he
had made, without knowing that he was Hazard the spiritualist, rather
famous in his department.... Don't fall out of heart with investigation.
It takes patient investigation to establish the number of legs of a
newly remarked fly. Nothing _riles_ me so much as the dogmatism of the
people who pronounce on there being nothing to see, because in half a
dozen experiments, perhaps, they have seen nothing conclusive.

    'Yet could not all creation pierce
    Beyond the bottom of his eye.'

Mediums cheat certainly. So do people who are not mediums. I
congratulate you on liking anybody better. That's pleasant for _you_ at
any rate. My changes are always the other way. I begin by seeing the
beautiful in most people, and then comes the disillusion. It isn't
caprice or unsteadiness; oh no! it's merely _fate_. _My_ fate, I mean.
Alas, my bubbles, my bubbles!

But I'm growing too original, and will break off. My Emperor at least
has not deceived me, and I'm going into the fire for him with a little
'brochure' of political poems, which you shall take at Chapman's with
the last edition of 'Aurora' when you go to England. Thank you a hundred
times from both Robert and me for the interesting relation of Cobden's
sayings on him. If Cobden had not rushed beyond civilisation, I should
like to offer him my little book. I should like it. Self-love is the
great malady of England, and immortal would the statesman be who could
and would tear a wider horizon for the popular mind. As to the rifle
cry, _I_ never doubted (for one) that it had its beginning with
'interested persons.' Never was any cry more ignoble. A rescues B from
being murdered by C, and E cries out, 'What if _A_ should murder _me_!'
That's the logic of the subject. And the sentiment is worthy of the
logic.

I expect to be torn to pieces by English critics for what I have
ventured to write....

Write me one of your amusing letters, and take our love, especially

Your ever affectionate BA'S.

There is no Roman news, people are so scarce. The Storys have given a
ball, Italians chiefly. We think of little but politics.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

28 Via del Tritone, Rome: December 29 [1859].

It was pleasant to have news of you, dearest friends, and to know of
your being comfortably established at Pau this cold winter, as it seems
to be in the north. We came here, flying from the Florence tramontana,
at the very close of November, on the Perugia road, after having been
weather-bound at Casa Guidi till we almost gave up our Roman plan. Most
happily the cold spared us during our six days' journey, which was very
pleasant. I like travelling by vetturino. The fatigue is small, and if
you take a supply of books with you the time does not hang fire. We had
some old Balzacs, which came new (he is one of our gods--heathen, you
will say) and we had, besides, Charles Reade's 'Love me Little, Love me
Long,' which is full of ability. Then Peni had his pony as a source of
interest. The pony was fastened to the vettura horses, and came into
Rome, not merely fresh, but fat. And we have fallen into pleasant places
by way of lodgings here, our friends having prepared a list to choose
from, so that I had only to drop out of the hotel into bright sunny
rooms, which do not cost too much on account of the comparative
desertion of this holy city this year. We arrived on December 3, and
here it is nearly January 1--almost a month. The older one grows the
faster time passes. Do you observe that? You catch the wind of the
wheels in your face, it seems, as you get nearer the end. I observe it
strongly.

Let me say of myself first that I am particularly well, and feel much
more sure and steady than since my illness. How are you both? I do hope
and trust you can give me good news of yourselves. Do you read aloud to
one another or each alone? Robert and I do the last always. May God
bless you both in health of body and soul, and every source of happiness
for the coming and other years! I wish and pray it out of my heart....

And you are studying music? I honour you for it. Do tell me, dearest
Mrs. Martin, did you know nothing of music before, and have you taken up
the piano? I hold a peculiar heresy as to the use hereafter of what we
learn here. When there is no longer any growth in me, I desire to
die--for one. And at present I by no means desire to die.

So you and others upbraid me with having put myself out of my 'natural
place.' What _is_ one's natural place, I wonder? For the Chinese it is
the inner side of the wall. For the red man it is the forest. The
natural place of everybody, I believe, is within the crust of all manner
of prejudices, social, religious, literary. That is as men conceive of
'natural places.' But, in the highest sense, I ask you, how _can_ a man
or a woman leave his or her natural place. Wherever God's universe is
round, and God's law above, there is a natural place. Circumstances, the
force of natural things, have brought me here and kept me; it is my
natural place. And, intellectually speaking, having grown to a certain
point by help of certain opportunities, my way of regarding the world is
also natural to me, my opinions are the natural deductions of my mind.
Isn't it so? Still I do beg to say both to you and to others accusing
that Italy is not my 'adopted country.' I love Italy, but I love France,
too, and certainly I love England. Because I have broken through what
seems to me the English 'Little Pedlingtonism,' am I to be supposed to
take up an Italian 'Little Pedlingtonism'? No, indeed. I love truth and
justice, or I try to love truth and justice, more than any Plato's or
Shakespeare's country.[73] I certainly do not love the egotism of
England, nor wish to love it. I class England among the most immoral
nations in respect to her foreign politics. And her 'National Defence'
cry fills me with disgust. But this by no means proves that I have
adopted another country--no, indeed! In fact, patriotism in the narrow
sense is a virtue which will wear out, sooner or later, everywhere. Jew
and Greek must drop their antagonisms; and if Christianity is ever to
develop it will not respect frontiers.

As to Italy, though I nearly broke my heart over her last summer, and
love the Italians deeply, I should feel passionately any similar crisis
anywhere. You cannot judge the people or the question out of the 'Times'
newspaper, whose sole policy is, it seems to me, to get up a war between
France and England, though the world should perish in the struggle. The
amount of fierce untruth uttered in that paper, and sworn to by the
'Saturday Review,' makes the moral sense curdle within one. You do not
_know_ this as we do, and you therefore set it down as matter of
Continental prejudice on my part. Well, time will prove. As to Italy, I
have to put on the rein to prevent myself from hoping into the ideal
again. I am on my guard against another fall from that chariot of the
sun. But things look magnicently, and if I could tell you certain facts
(which I can't) you would admit it. Odo Russell, the English Minister
here (in an occult sense), who, with a very acute mind, is strongly
Russell and English, and was full of the English distrust of L.N., when
with us at Siena last September, came to me two days ago, and said, 'It
is plain now. The Emperor is rather Italian than French. He has worked,
and is working, only for Italy; and whatever has seemed otherwise has
been forced from him in order to keep on terms with his colleagues, the
kings and queens of Europe. Everything that comes out proves it more and
more.' In fact, he has risked everything for the Italians except _their
cause_. I am delighted, among other things, at Cavour's representation
of Italy at the Congress. Antonelli and his party are in desperation,
gnashing their teeth at the Tuileries. The position of the Emperor is
most difficult, but his great brain will master it. We are rather uneasy
about the English Ministry--its work in Congress; it might go out for me
(falling to pieces on the pitiful Suez question or otherwise), but we do
want it at Congress.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

28 Via del Tritone, Rome: February 22 [1860].

Dearest, naughtiest Mona Nina,--Where is the place of your soul, your
body abiding at Brighton, that never, no, never, do I hear from you? It
seems hard. Last summer I was near to slipping out of the world, and
then, except for a rap, you might have called on me in vain (and said
rap you wouldn't have believed in). Also, even this winter, even in this
Rome, the city of refuge, I have had an attack, less long and sharp,
indeed, but weakening, and, though I am well now, and have corrected the
proofs of a very thin and wicked 'brochure' on Italian affairs (in
verse, of course), yet still I am not too strong for cod-liver oil and
the affectionateness of such friends as you (I speak as if I had a shoal
of such friends--povera mi!). Write to me, therefore. Especially as the
English critics will worry me alive for my book and you will have to
say, 'Well done, critics!' so write before you read it, to say, 'Ba, I
love you.' That makes up for everything. Oh, I know you did write to me
in the summer. And then I wrote to you; and then there came a _pause_,
which is hard on me, I repeat.

Geddie has come here, lamenting also. Besides, we have been somewhat
disappointed by your not coming to Italy. Never will you come to Rome as
Geddie expects, late in the spring, to take an apartment close to her,
looking charmingly on the river. I told her quite frankly that you would
not be so unwise. Rome is empty of foreigners this year, a few Americans
standing for all. Then, in the midst of the quiet, deeply does the
passion work: on one side, with the people, on the other in the despair
and rage of the Papal Government. The Pope can't go out to breakfast, to
drink chocolate and talk about 'Divine things' to the 'Christian youth,'
but he stumbles upon the term 'new ideas,' and, falling precipitately
into a fury, neither evangelical nor angelical, calls Napoleon a
_sicario_ (cut-throat), and Vittorio Emanuele an _assassino_. The French
head of police, who was present, whispered to acquaintances of ours,
'Comme il enrage le saint pere!' In fact, all dignity has been
repeatedly forgotten in simple _rage_. Affairs of Italy generally are
going on to the goal, and we look for the best and glorious results,
perhaps _not without more fighting_. Certainly we can't leave Venetia in
the mouth of Austria by a second Villafranca. We cannot and will not.
And, sooner or later, the Emperor is prepared, I think, to carry us
through. Odo Russell told me (without my putting any question to him)
that everything, as it came out, proved how true he had been to
Italy--that, in fact, he had 'rather acted as an Italian than as a
Frenchman.' And Mr. Russell, while liberal, is himself very English, and
free from Buonaparte tendencies from hair to heel.

We often have letters from dear Isa Blagden, who sends me the Florence
news, more shining from day to day. Central Italy seems safe.

But let me tell you of my thin slice of a wicked book. Yes, I shall
expect you to read it, and I send you an order for it to Chapman,
therefore. Everybody will hate me for it, and so _you must_ try hard to
love me the more to make up for that. Say it's mad, and bad, and sad;
but _add_ that somebody did it who meant it, thought it, felt it,
throbbed it out with heart and brain, and that she holds it for truth in
conscience and not in partisanship. I want to tell you (oh, I can't help
telling you) that when the ode was read before Peni, at the part
relating to Italy his eyes overflowed, and down he threw himself on the
sofa, hiding his face. The child has been very earnest about Italian
politics. The heroine of that poem called 'The Dance'[74] was Madame di
Laiatico. The 'Court Lady' is an individualisation of a general fashion,
the ladies at Milan having gone to the hospitals in full dress and in
open carriages. Macmahon taking up the child[75] is also historical. I
believe the facts to be in the book: 'He has done it all,'[76] were
Cavour's words. When you see an advertisement and have an opportunity to
apply at Chapman's, do so 'by this sign' enclosed. I read of you in the
papers, stirring up the women.

Write and say how you are, and where you are.

[_Part of this letter is missing._]

Your ever very affectionate
BA.

I hope you liked the article on the immorality of luncheon-rooms in your
high-minded 'Saturday Review.'


FOOTNOTES:

[62] Prime Minister of Piedmont from 1849-52, and one of the most
honourable and patriotic of Italian statesmen.

[63] Subsequently English ambassador at Berlin, and one of the
plenipotentiaries at the Berlin Congress of 1878. Created Lord Ampthill
in 1881, and died in 1884.

[64] Now in the possession of Mr. R. Barrett Browning.

[65] The conferences for the arrangement of the final treaty of peace
were held at Zurich.

[66] Of Tuscany with Piedmont, which was voted by Tuscany in August.
Modena, Parma, and Romagna did the same, and so made the critical step
towards the creation of a united Italy.

[67] It was supposed that Napoleon contemplated constituting Central
Italy, or at least Tuscany, into a kingdom for his brother Jerome, and
that it was for this reason that the latter had been sent to Florence
with a French corps at the beginning of the war.

[68] Napoleon being opposed to the idea of a united Italy, Victor
Emmanuel did not consider it wise to accept the proffered crown of
Central Italy while a French army was still in the country and the terms
of peace were not finally settled.

[69] The new Duke of Tuscany. He had succeeded to this now very shadowy
throne on July 21 of this year.

[70] Not on account of bad riding, be it observed, but of daring and
venturesome riding.

[71] Mr. Chorley had dedicated his last novel, _Roccabella_, to Mrs.
Browning.

[72]

    'Do you see this ring?
                 'Tis Rome-work, made to match
    (By _Castellani's_ imitative craft)
     Etrurian circlets,' etc.

    (_The Ring and the Book_, i. 1-4.)

[73] Mrs. Browning is here quoting from her own preface to _Poems before
Congress_.

[74] _Poetical Works_, iv. 190.

[75] See 'Napoleon III. in Italy,' stanza 11, _ibid._ p. 181. The
incident occurred at Macmahon's entry into Milan, three days after
Magenta.

[76] _Ibid._ stanza 12.




CHAPTER XI

1860-1861


Early in 1860 the promised booklet, 'Poems before Congress,' was
published in England, and met with very much the reception the authoress
had anticipated. It contained only eight poems, all but one relating to
the Italian question. Published at a time when the events to which they
alluded were still matters of current controversy, they could not but be
regarded rather as pamphleteering than as poetry; and it could hardly be
expected that the ordinary Englishman, whose sympathy with Italy did not
abolish his mistrust (eminently justifiable, as later revelations have
shown it to be) of Louis Napoleon, should read with equanimity the
continual scorn of English policy and motives, or the continual
exaltation of the Emperor. Looking back now over a distance of nearly
forty years, and when the Second Empire, with all its merits and its
sins, has long gone to its account, we can, at least in part, put aside
the politics and enjoy the poetry. Though pieces like 'The Dance' and 'A
Court Lady' are not of much permanent value, there are many fine
passages, notably in 'Napoleon III. in Italy,' and 'Italy and the
World,' in which a true and noble enthusiasm is expressed in living and
burning words, worthy of a poet.

For attacks on her Italian politics Mrs. Browning was prepared, as the
foregoing letters show; but one incident caused her real and quite
unexpected annoyance. The reviewer in the 'Athenaeum' (apparently Mr.
Chorley) by some unaccountable oversight took the 'Curse for a Nation'
to apply to England, instead of being (as it obviously is) a
denunciation of American slavery. Consequently he referred to this poem
in terms of strong censure, as improper and unpatriotic on the part of
an English writer; and a protest from Mrs. Browning only elicited a
somewhat grudging editorial note, in a tone which implied that the
interpretation which the reviewer had put upon the poem was one which it
would naturally bear. One can hardly be surprised at the annoyance which
this treatment caused to Mrs. Browning, though some of the phrases in
which she speaks of it bear signs of the excitement which characterised
so much of her thought in these years of mental strain and stress, and
bodily weakness and decay.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Jameson_

(Fragment) [Early in 1860.]

I remember well your kindness to it. Nothing was said then about the
'fit arguments for poetry,' and I recovered from it to write 'Aurora
Leigh,' of which, however, many people did say that it was built on an
unfit argument, and besides was a very indecent, corrupting book (have I
not heard of ladies of sixty, who had 'never felt themselves pure since
reading it'?) But now, consider. Since you did not lose hope for me in
'Casa Guidi Windows,' because the line of politics was your own, why
need you despair of me in the 'Poems before Congress,' although I do
praise the devil in them? A mistake is not fatal to a critic? need it be
to a poet? Does Napoleon's being wicked (if he is so) make Italy less
interesting? or unfit for poetry historical subjects like 'The Dance' or
the 'Court Lady'? Meanwhile that thin-skinned people the Americans
exceed some of you in generosity, rendering thanks to reprovers of their
ill deeds, and understanding the pure love of the motive.[77] Let me
tell you rather for their sake than mine. I have extravagant praises and
_prices_ offered to me from 'over the western sun,' in consequence of
these very 'Poems before Congress.' The nation is generous in these
things and not 'thin-skinned.'

As to England, I shall be forgiven in time. The first part of a campaign
and the first part of a discussion are the least favourable to English
successes. After a while (by the time you have learnt to shoot cats with
the new rifles), you will put them away, and arrive at the happy second
thought which corrects the first thought. That second thought will not
be of _invasion_, prophesies a headless prophet. 'Time was when heads
were off a man would die.' A man--yes. But a woman! _We_ die hard, you
know.

Here, an end. I hope you will write to me some day, and ease me by
proving to me that I have ceased to be bitter to the palate of your
soul. Believe this--that, rather than be a serious sadness to you, I
would gladly sit on in the pillory under the aggressive mud of that mob
of 'Saturday Reviewers,' who take their mud and their morals from the
same place, and use voices hoarse with hooting down un-English
poetesses, to cheer on the English champion, Tom Sayers. For me, I
neither wish for the 'belt'[78] nor martyrdom; but if I were ambitious
of anything, it might be to be wronged where, for instance, Cavour is
wronged.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

[Rome], Friday [end of March 1860].

My ever dearest Isa, I am scarcely in heart yet for writing letters, and
did not mean to write to-day. You heard of the unexpected event which
brought me the loss of a very dear friend, dear, dear Mrs. Jameson.[79]
It was, of course, a shock to me, as such things are meant to be....

And now I come to what makes me tax you with a dull letter, I feeling so
dully; and, dear, it is with dismay I have to tell you that the letter
you addressed under cover to Mr. Russell has _never reached us_. Till
your last communication (this moment received), I had hoped that the
contents of it might have been less important than O.-papers must be.
What is to be done, or thought? I beseech you to write and tell me if
_harm_ is likely to follow from this seizure. The other inclosure came
to me quite safely, because it came by the Government messenger. I think
you sent it through Corbet. But Mr. Russell's _post_ letters are as
liable to opening as mine are; his name is no security. Whenever you
send a 'Nazione' newspaper through him, it never reaches us, though we
receive our 'Monitore' through him regularly. Why? Because in his
position he is allowed to have newspapers for his own use. He takes in
for himself no 'Monitore,' so ours goes to his account, but he does take
in a 'Nazione,' therefore ours is seized, as being plainly for other
hands than his own licensed ones.

I am very much grieved about this loss of your letter and its contents.
First, there's my fear lest harm should come of this, and then there's
my own personal _mulcting_ of what would have been of such deep interest
to me. I am 'revelling'? See how little.

Robert wrote in a playful vein to Kate, and you must not and will not
care for that. He had understood from your letter that you and the
majority had all, like the 'Athenaeum,' understood the 'Curse for a
Nation' to be directed against England. Robert was _furious_ about the
'Athenaeum'; no other word describes him, and I thought that both I and
Mr. Chorley would perish together, seeing that even the accusation (such
a one!) made me infamous, it seemed.

The curious thing is, that it was at Robert's suggestion that that
particular poem was reprinted there (it never had appeared in England),
though 'Barkis was willing'; I had no manner of objection. I never have
to justice.

Mr. Chorley's review is objectionable to me because unjust. A reviewer
should read the book he gives judgment on, and he could not have read
from beginning to end the particular poem in question, and have
expounded its significance so. I wrote a letter on the subject to the
'Athenaeum' to correct this mis-statement, which I cared for chiefly on
Robert's account.

In fact, _I_ cursed neither England nor America. I leave such things to
our Holy Father here; the poem only pointed out how the curse was
involved in the action of slave-holding.

I never saw Robert so enraged about a criticism. He is better now, let
me add.

In the matter of Savoy,[80] it has vexed and vexes me, I do confess to
you. It's a handle given to various kinds of dirty hands, it spoils the
beauty and glory of much, the uncontested admiration of which would have
done good to the world. At the same time, as long as Piedmont and Savoy
agree in the annexation to France, there is nothing to object to--not to
object to with a reasonable mind. And it seems to be understood (it is
stated in fact), that the cession is under condition of the assent of
the populations. The Vote is necessary to the honour of France. I do not
doubt that it will be consulted. Meantime there is too much haste, I
think. There is a haste somewhat indelicate in the introduction of
French garrisons into Savoy, previous to the popular conclusion being
known. There should have been mixed garrisons, French and Piedmontese,
till the vote was taken. Napoleon should have been more particular in
Savoy than he was even in central Italy, as to the advance of any
occasion of the current charge of 'pressure.'

Altogether the subject is an anxious one--would be, even if less
rancorous violence on the part of his enemies were wreaked upon it. The
English Tories are using it with the frenzy of despair, and no wonder!

Lamoriciere's arrival is another proof of the internal coalition against
the Empire.

Now I must end, Robert says, or I shall lose the post. My true best
love, and Robert's--and Peni's.

Write to me, do, dearest Isa, and tell me if the MSS. sent were
_nuisibles_. The Excommunication just out is said to include the
Emperor.

Your ever loving
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[Rome: about March 1860.]

Dearest Sarianna,--It is impossible to have a regret for dear Lady
Elgin. She has been imprisoned here under double chains too long. To be
out of the dark and the restraint is a blessing to that spirit, and must
be felt so by all who love her. Of course I shall write to Lady Augusta
Bruce....

No, I don't think there is much to be forgiven by my countrymen in my
book. What I reproach them for, none of them deny. They certainly took
no part in the war, nor will they if there is more war, and certainly
the existence of the rifle clubs is a fact.

Robert and I began to write on the Italian question together, and our
plan was (Robert's own suggestion!) to publish jointly. When I showed
him my ode on Napoleon he observed that I was gentle to England in
comparison to what he had been, but after Villafranca (the Palmerston
Ministry having come in) he destroyed his poem and left me alone, and I
determined to stand alone. What Robert had written no longer suited the
moment; but the poetical devil in me burnt on for an utterance. I have
spoken nothing but historical truths, as far as the outline is
concerned. But the spirit of the whole, is, of course, opposed to the
national feeling, or I should not in my preface suppose it to be
offended.

With every deference to you, dearest Sarianna, I cannot think that you
who live, as the English usually do, quite aside and apart from French
society, can judge of the interest in France for Italy. I see French
letters--letters of French men and women--giving a very contrary
impression. The French newspapers give a very contrary impression. And
the statistics of books and pamphlets published and circulated in France
on the Italian question this year are in most prodigious disaccord with
such a conclusion. Compare them with the same statistics in England, and
then judge.

Besides, the English, to do them justice, can be active and generous in
any cause in which they are really interested, and it is a fact that we
could not get up a subscription in England even for Garibaldi's muskets
lately, while France is always giving.

Not that there are not, and have not been, many English of generous
sympathies towards Italy. That I well know. But it is a small,
protesting minority. Lord John has done very well, as far as words can
go, but it has been simply in giving effect to the intentions of France,
who wanted much a respectable conservative Power like England to endorse
her bill of revolution with the retrograde European Governments.

I will spare what I think of the treatment in England of the Savoy
question. We are losing all moral prestige in the eyes of the world,
with our small jealousies and factional struggles for power.

Ah! dear Sarianna, I don't complain for myself of an unappreciating
public--_I have no reason_. But, just for _that_ reason, I complain
more about Robert, only he does not hear me complain. To _you_ I may
say, that the blindness, deafness, and stupidity of the English public
to Robert are amazing. Of course Milsand had 'heard his name'! Well, the
contrary would have been strange. Robert _is_. All England can't prevent
his existence, I suppose. But nobody there, except a small knot of
pre-Raffaelite men, pretends to do him justice. Mr. Forster has done the
best in the press. As a sort of lion, Robert has his range in society,
and, for the rest, you should see Chapman's returns; while in America
he's a power, a writer, a poet. He is read--he lives in the hearts of
the people. 'Browning readings' here in Boston; 'Browning evenings'
there. For the rest, the English hunt lions too, Sarianna, but their
favourite lions are chosen among 'lords' chiefly, or 'railroad kings.'
'It's worth _eating much dirt_,' said an Englishman of high family and
character here, 'to get to Lady ----'s soiree.' Americans will eat dirt
to get to _us_. There's the difference. English people will come and
stare at _me_ sometimes, but physicians, dentists, who serve me and
refuse their fees, artists who give me pictures, friends who give up
their carriages and make other practical sacrifices, are _not
English_--no--though English Woolner was generous about a bust. Let _me_
be just at least.

There is a beautiful photograph of Wilde's picture of Pen on horseback,
which shall go to you, the likeness better than in the picture.

I can scarcely allude to the loss of my loved friend Mrs. Jameson. It's
a blot more on the world to me. Best love to you and the dear Nonno from
Pen and myself. The editor of the 'Atlas' writes to thank me for the
justice and courage of my international politics. English clergyman
stops at the door to say to the servant, 'he does not know me, but
applauds my sentiments.' So there may be ten just persons who spare

Your affectionate sister.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

[Rome]: Saturday [April 1860].

My dearest dear Isa, not well! That must be the first word 'by return of
post.' Dear, let me have a better letter, to say that you are well and
bright again, and brilliant Isa as customary.

And now, join me in admiration of the 'husband Browning!' Isn't he a
miracle, whoever else may be? The wife Browning, not to name most other
human beings, would have certainly put the 'Monitore' receipt into the
fire, or, at best, lost it. In fact, whisper it not in the streets of
Askelon, but _she_ had forgotten even the fact of its having been sent,
and was quietly concluding that Wilson had lost it in a fog and that we
should have patiently to pay twice. Not at all. Up rises the husband
Browning, superior to his mate, and with eyes all fire, holds up the
receipt like an heroic rifleman looking to a French invasion at the end
of a hundred years. Blessed be they who keep receipts. It is a beatitude
beyond my reach.

Only I do hope my Tuscan friends of the 'Monitore' are only careless and
forgetful in their business habits, and that they didn't think of
'annexing'--eh, Isa! No, I don't believe it was dishonesty, it might
have so very well been oblivion.

May the paper come to-day, that's all. We get the 'Galignani,' but can't
afford to miss our Italian news. Then, not only we ourselves, but half a
dozen Tuscan exiles here in Rome who are not allowed to read a freely
breathed word, come to us for that paper, friends of Ferdinando's living
in Rome. First he lent them the paper, then they got frightened for fear
of being convicted through some spy of reading such a thing[81], and
prayed to come to this house to read it. There have been six of them
sometimes in the evening. We keep a sort of cafe in Rome, observe, and
your 'Monitore' is necessary to us.

You have seen by this time Lamoriciere's[82] address to the Papal array.
It's extraordinary, while the French are still here, that such a
publication should be permitted, obvious as the position taken must be
to all, and personally displeasing to the Emperor as the man is known to
be. Magnanimity is certainly a great feature of Napoleon's mind. And now
what next? The French are going, of course. You would suppose an attack
on Romagna imminent. And better so. Let us have it out at once.

I have the papers. I am much the better for some things in them. There's
to be the universal suffrage, the withdrawal of troops, whatever I
wanted. Cavour's despatch to the Swiss is also excellent. Those injured
martyrs wanted the bone in their teeth, that's all.

The wailing in England for Swiss and Savoyards, while other
nationalities are to be trodden under foot without intervention, except
what's called _aggression_, is highly irritating to me.

Dearest Isa, Robert tore me from my last sentence to you. I was going to
say that I cared less for the attacks of the press on my book than I
care for your sympathy. Thank you for feeling 'mad' for me. But be sane
again. Dear, it's not worth being mad for.

In the advertised 'Blackwood,' do you see an article called 'Poetic
Aberration'? It came into my head that it might be a stone thrown at me,
and Robert went to Monaldini's to glance at it. Sure enough it is a
stone. He says a violent attack. And let me do him justice. It was only
the misstatement in the 'Athenaeum' which overset him, only the first
fire which made him wink. Now he turns a hero's face to all this
cannonading. He doesn't care a straw, he says, and what's more, he
doesn't, really. So I, who was only sorry for him, can't care. Observe,
Isa, if there had been less violence and more generosity, the poems
would obviously have been less deserved.

The English were not always so thin-skinned. Lord Byron and Moore
have....

[_The rest of the letter is lost_]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

Rome: April 2, [1860].

Ever dearest Isa,--Here are the letters! I am sorry I wrote rashly
yesterday; but from an expression of yours I took for granted that the
packet went by the post; and I have been really very anxious about it.

No, Isa; I don't like the tone of these letters so well. I can
understand that what is said of Belgium and the Rhine provinces is in
the event of a certain coalition and eventual complication, but it
doesn't do, even in a thought and theory, to sacrifice a country like
Belgium. I respect France, and 'l'idee Napoleonienne'; yes, but
conscience and the populations more.

As to Napoleon's waiting for the bribe of Savoy before he would pass
beyond Villafranca, this is making him ignoble; and I do not believe it
in the least. Also it contradicts the letter-writer's previous letter,
in which he said that Savoy had been from the beginning the _sous
entendre_ of Venetia. No, I can see that an Italy in unity, a great
newly constituted nation, might be reasonably asked by her liberator to
shift her frontier from beyond the Alps, but for Victor Emmanuel to be
expected at Milan to put his hand into his pocket and pay, without
completion of facts, or consultation of peoples, this would be to 'faire
le marchand' indeed, and I could write no odes to a man who could act
so. I don't sell my soul to Napoleon, and applaud him _quand meme_. But
absolutely I disbelieve in this version, Isa. If the war had not stopped
at Villafranca, it would have been European; _that_, if not clear at the
time, is clear now--clear from the official statement of Prussia. By
putting diplomacy in the place of the war, a great deal was absolutely
attained, besides a better standpoint for a renewal of the war, should
that be necessary. 'Hence those tears'--of Villafranca!

The letter-writer is very keen, and evidently hears a good deal, while
he selects after his own judgment. _I_ am glad to hear that 'L'Opinion
Nationale' represents the efficient power. That's comfortable. What's to
be done next in the south here rests with _us_, it seems. But what of
the occupation of Rome? And what is the meaning of Lamoriciere being
here 'with the consent of the Emperor'? Lamoriciere can mean no good
either to the French Government or to Italy; and the Emperor knows it
well.

My dearest Isa, let us make haste to say that of course I shall be glad
to let my book be used as is proposed. How will we get a copy to M.
Fauvety? I enclose an order to Chapman and Hall which M. Dall'
Ongaro[83] may enclose to his friend, who must enclose it on to England,
with a letter conveying his address in Paris. Then the book may be sent
by the _book post_. Wouldn't that do?

I shall give a copy to Dall' Ongaro (when I can get a supply), and one
for the Trollopes also, never forgetting dear Kate! (and I do expect
copies through the embassy) but I have not seen a word of the book yet.
I only know that, being Caesar's wife, I am not merely 'suspected' (poor
wife!), but dishonored before the 'Athenaeum' world as an unnatural
vixen, who, instead of staying at home and spinning wool, stays at
home[84] and curses her own land. 'It is my own, my native land!' If,
indeed, I had gone abroad and cursed other people's lands, there would
have been no objection. That poem, as addressed to America, has always
been considered rather an amiable and domestic trait on my part. But
England! Heavens and earth! What a crime! The very suspicion of it is
guilt.

The fact is, between you and me, Isa, certain of those quoted stanzas do
'_fit_' England 'as if they were made for her,' which they were _not_,
though....

According to your letters, Venetia seems pushed off into the future a
little, don't you think?

Still, they are interesting, very. Get Dall' Ongaro to remember me in
future. The details about Antonelli shall go to him. I am delighted at
the idea of being translated by him....

Write to me, my dearly loved Isa. You who are true! let me touch you!

Yours ever from the heart
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

28 Via del Tritone:
Monday and Tuesday [April 1860].

Ever dearest Isa,--I send you under this enclosure an abstract of some
papers given to me by somebody who can't be named, with a sketch of
Antonelli. I wasn't allowed to copy; I was only to abstract. But
everything is in. The whole has been verified and may be absolutely
relied on, I hear. So long I have waited for them. Should I have
translated them into Italian, I wonder? Or can Dall' Ongaro get to the
bottom of them so? Dates of birth are not mentioned, I observe. From
another quarter I may get those. About has the character of romancing a
little.

Not a word do you say of your health. Do another time. Remember that
your previous letter left you in bed.

Dearest Isa, how it touched me, your putting away the 'Saturday Review'!
But dear, don't care more for me than I do for myself. That very
Review, lent to us, _we_ lent to the Storys. Dear, the abuse of the
press is the justification of the poems; so don't be reserved about
these attacks. I was a little, little vexed by a letter this morning
from my brother George; but _pazienza_, we must bear these things.
Robert called yesterday on Odo Russell, who observed to him that the
article in the 'Saturday Review' was infamous, and that the general tone
of the newspaper had grown to be so offensive, he should cease to take
it in. (Not on my account, observe.) 'But,' said Mr. Russell, 'it's
extraordinary, the sensation your wife's book has made. Every paper I
see has something to say about it,' added he; 'it is curious. The
offence has been less in the objections to England than in the praise of
Napoleon. Certainly Monckton Milnes said a good thing when he was asked
lately in Paris what, after all, you English wanted. "_We want_" he
answered, "_first, that the Austrians should beat you French thoroughly;
next, we want that the Italians should be free, and then we want them to
be very grateful to us for doing nothing towards it._" This, concluded
Russell, 'sums up the whole question.' Mark, he is very English, but he
can't help seeing what lies before him, having quick perceptions,
moreover. Then men have no courage. Milnes, for instance, keeps his
sarcasm for Paris, and in England supports his rifle club and all
Parliamentary decencies.

Mind you read 'Blackwood.' Though I was rather vexed by George's letter
(he is awfully vexed) I couldn't help laughing at my sister Henrietta,
who accepts the interpretation of the 'Athenaeum' (having read the poems)
and exclaims, 'But, oh, Ba, such dreadful curses!'...

Mrs. Apthorp has arrived, but I have not seen her nor received the
paper. Pins were right, though I should have liked some smaller.
'Monitores' arrived up at the 12. Beyond, nothing. I hear that Mr.
Apthorp was struck with the 'brilliant conversation between you and
Miss Cobbe.' You made an impression too, on Mrs. Apthorp.

Oh, Isa, how I should like to be with you in our Florence to-day. Yes,
yes, I think of you. Here the day is gloomy, and with a sprinkling now
and then of rain. I trust you may have more sun. God bless the city and
the hills, and the people who dwell therein!

I have just sent a lyric to Thackeray for his magazine.[85] He begged me
for something long ago. Robert suggested that _now_ he probably wanted
nothing from such profane hands. So I told him that in that case he
might send me back my manuscripts. In the more favorable case it may be
still too late for this month. The poem is 'meek as maid,' though the
last thing I wrote--no touch of 'Deborah'--'_A Musical Instrument_.' How
good this 'Cornhill Magazine' is! Anthony Trollope is really superb.[86]
I only just got leave from Robert to send something: he is so averse to
the periodicals as mediums....

Lamoriciere's arrival produces a painful sensation among the people
here; and the withdrawal of the French troops has become most unpopular.
I am anxious. If the Emperor has consented to his coming, it was pure
magnanimity, and very characteristic; but the _cost of this_ should be
paid by France and not Italy, we must feel besides. I am content about
Savoy.

Dearest Isa, you and your 'Saturday Reviewer' shall have Robert's
portrait. Are you sure he didn't ask for _mine_? How good you are to us
and Landor! God bless you, says

Your tenderly loving
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Chorley_

28 Via del Tritone, Rome: April 13, [1860].

My dear Mr. Chorley,--It is always better to be frank than otherwise;
sometimes it is necessary to be frank--that is when one would fain keep
a friend, yet has a thing against him which burns in one. I shall put my
foot on this spark in a moment; but first I must throw it out of my
heart you see, and here it is.

Dearest Mr. Chorley, you have not been just to me in the matter of my
'Poems before Congress.' Why have you not been just to me? You are an
honest man and my friend. Those two things might go together. Your
opinions, critical or political, are free from stress of friendship. I
never expected from you favor or mercy _because_ you were my friend (it
would have been unworthy of us both) but I did expect justice from you,
_although_ you were my friend. That is reasonable.

And I consider that as a conscientious critic you were bound to read
through the whole of the 'rhyme' called 'A Curse for a Nation' before
ticketing it for the public, and I complain that after neglecting to do
so and making a mistake in consequence, you refused the poor amends of
printing my letter in full. A loose paragraph like this found to-day in
your 'Athenaeum' about Mrs. Browning 'wishing to state' that the 'Curse'
was levelled at America _quoad_ negro-slavery, and the satisfaction of
her English readers in this correction of what was 'generally thought';
as if Mrs. Browning 'stated' it arbitrarily (perhaps from fright) and as
if the poem stated nothing distinctly, and as if the intention of it
_could_ be 'generally thought' what the 'Athenaeum' critic took it to be,
except by following his lead or adopting his process of a general
skipping of half the said poem--this loose paragraph does not cover a
great fault, it seems to me. Well, I have spoken.

As to the extent of the 'general thought,' we cannot, of course judge
here, where it is so difficult to get access to periodicals. We have
seen, however, two virulent articles from enemies in 'Blackwood' and the
'Saturday Review,' the latter sparing none of its native mud through
three columns; _not_ to speak of a renewal of the charge in several
political articles with a most flattering persistency. Both these
writers (being enemies) keep clear of the 'general thought' suggested by
a friend, and accepted indeed by friendly and generous reviewers in the
'Atlas' and 'Daily News.' Therefore I feel perfectly unaggrieved by all
the enemies' hard words. They speak from their own point of view, and
have a right to speak.

In fact, in printing the poems, I did not expect to help my reputation
in England, but simply to deliver my soul, to get the relief to my
conscience and heart, which comes from a pent-up word spoken or a tear
shed. Whatever I may have ever written of the least worth has
represented a conviction in me, something in me felt as a truth. I never
wrote to please any of you, not even to please my own husband. Every
genuine artist in the world (whatever his degree) goes to heaven for
speaking the truth. It is one of the beatitudes of art, and attainable
without putting off the flesh.

To be plain, and not mystical, it is obvious that if I had expected
compliments and caresses from the English press to my 'Poems before
Congress,' the said poems would have been little deserved in England,
and a greater mistake on my part than any committed by the 'Athenaeum,'
which is saying much.

There! I have done. The spark is under my shoe. If in 'losing my temper'
I have 'lost my music,' don't let it be said that I have lost my friend
by my own fault and choice also.

For I would not willingly lose him, though he should be unjust to me
thrice, instead of this once throughout our intercourse. Affectionately
yours, dear Mr. Chorley,

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mr. Chorley_

28 Via del Tritone, Rome: May 2, [1860].

My dear Mr. Chorley,--I make haste to answer your letter, and beg you to
do the like in putting out of your life the least touch of pain or
bitterness connected with me. It is true, true, true, that some of my
earliest gladness in literary sympathy and recognition came from you. I
was grateful to you then as a stranger, and I am not likely ever to
forget it as a friend. Believe this of me, as I feel it of _you_.

In the matter of reviews and of my last book, and before leaving the
subject for ever, I want you distinctly to understand that my complaint
related simply to the mistake in facts, and not to any mistake in
opinion. The quality of neither mercy nor justice should be strained in
the honest reviewer by the personal motive; and, because you felt a
regard for me, _that_ was no kind of reason why you should like my book.

In printing the poems, I well knew the storm of execration which would
follow. Your zephyr from the 'Athenaeum' was the first of it, gentle
indeed in comparison with various gusts from other quarters. All fair it
was from your standpoint, to see me as a prophet without a head, or even
as a woman in a shrewish temper, and if my husband had not been
especially pained by my being held up at the end of a fork as the
unnatural she-monster who had 'cursed' her own country (following the
Holy Father), I should have left the '_mistake_' to right itself,
without troubling the 'Athenaeum' office with the letter they would not
insert. In fact, Robert was a little vexed with me for not being vexed
enough. I was only vexed enough when the 'Athenaeum' corrected its
misstatement in its own way. _That did_ extremely vex me, for it made me
look ungenerous, cowardly, mean--as if, in haste to escape from the dogs
in England, I threw them the good name of America. 'Mrs. Browning _now
states_.'

Well, dear Mr. Chorley, it was not your doing. So the thing that 'vexed
me enough' in you was a mistake of mine. Let us forgive one another our
mistakes; and there, an end. _I_ was wrong in taking for granted that
the letter which referred to your review was entrusted to you to dispose
of; and you were not right in being in too much haste to condemn a book
you disliked to give the due measure of attention to every page of it.
The insurgents being plainly insurgents, you shot one at least of them
without trial, as was done in Spain the other day. True, that even
favorable critics have fallen here and there into your very mistake; but
is not that mainly attributable to the suggestive power of the
'Athenaeum,' do you not believe so yourself? 'Thais led the way!'

And now that we clasp hands again, my dear friend, let me say one word
as to the 'argument' of my last poems. Once, in a kind and generous
review of 'Aurora Leigh,' you complained a little of 'new lights.' Now I
appeal to you. Is it not rather _you_ than I, who deal in 'new lights,'
if the liberation of a people and the struggle of a nation for existence
have ceased in your mind to be the right arguments for poetry? Observe,
I may be wrong or right about Napoleon. He may be snake, scoundrel,
devil, in his motives. But the thing he did was done before the eyes of
all. His coming here was real, the stroke of his sword was indubitable,
the rising and struggle of the people was beyond controversy, and the
state of things at present is a fact. What if the father of poetry Homer
(to go back to the oldest lights) made a mistake about the cause of
Achilles' wrath. What if Achilles really wanted to get rid of Briseis
and the war together, and sulked in his tent in a great sham? Should we
conclude against the artistic propriety of the poet's argument
therefore?

You greatly surprise me by such objections. It is objected to 'new
lights,' as far as I know, that we are apt to be too metaphysical,
self-conscious, subjective, everything for which there are hard German
words. The reproaches made against myself have been often of this
nature, as you must be well aware. 'Beyond human sympathies' is a phrase
in use among critics of a certain school. But that, in any school, any
critic should consider the occasions of great tragic movements (such as
a war for the life of a nation) unfit occasions for poetry, improper
arguments, fills me with an astonishment which I can scarcely express
adequately, and, pardon me, I can only understand your objection by a
sad return on the English persistency in its mode of looking at the
Italian war. You have looked at it always too much as a mere table for
throwing dice--so much for France's ambition, so much for Piedmont's, so
much stuff for intrigue in an English Parliament for ousting Whigs, or
inning Conservatives. You have not realised to yourselves the dreadful
struggle for national life, you who, thank God, have your life as a
nation safe. A calm scholastic Italian friend of ours said to my husband
at the peace, '_It's sad to think how the madhouses will fill after
this._' You do not conceive clearly the agony of a whole people with
their house on fire, though Lord Brougham used that very figure to
recommend your international neutrality. No, if you conceived of it, if
you did not dispose of it lightly in your thoughts as of a Roccabella
conspiracy, full half vanity, and only half serious--a Mazzini
explosion, not a quarter justified, and taking place often on an affair
of _metier_--you, a thoughtful and feeling man, would cry aloud that if
poets represent the deepest things, the most tragic things in human
life, they need not go further for an argument. And _I_ say, my dear Mr.
Chorley, that if, while such things are done and suffered, the poet's
business is to rhyme the stars and walk apart, _I_ say that Mr. Carlyle
is right, and that the world requires more earnest workers than such
dreamers can be.

For my part, I have always conceived otherwise of poetry. I believe that
if anything written by me has been recognised even by _you_, the cause
is that I have written not to please you or any critic, but the deepest
truth out of my own heart and head. I don't dream and make a poem of it.
Art is not either all beauty or all use, it is essential truth which
makes its way through beauty into use. Not that I say this for myself.
Artistically, I may have failed in these poems--that is for the critic
to consider; but in the choice of their argument I have not failed
artistically, _I think_, or my whole artistic life and understanding of
life have failed.

There, I cannot persuade you of this, but I believe it. I have tried to
stand on the facts of things before I began to feel 'dithyrambically.'
Thought out coldly, then felt upon warmly. I will not admit of 'being
heated out of fairness!' I deny it, and stand upon my innocency.

And after all, 'Casa Guidi Windows' was a book that commended itself to
you, Mr. Chorley.

[_The rest of this letter is missing_]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To John Forster_

28 Via del Tritone, Rome: Monday [May 1860].

I have tried and taken pains to see the truth, and have spoken it as I
have seemed to see it. If the issue of events shall prove me wrong about
the E. Napoleon, the worse for _him_, I am bold to say, rather than for
me, who have honored him only because I believed his intentions worthy
of the honor of honest souls.

If he lives long enough, he will explain himself to all. So far, I
cannot help persisting in certain of my views, because they have been
held long enough to be justified by the past on many points. The
intervention in Italy, while it overwhelmed with joy, did not dazzle me
into doubts of the motive of it, but satisfied a patient expectation and
fulfilled a logical inference. Thus it did not present itself to my mind
as a caprice of power, to be followed perhaps by an onslaught on
Belgium, and an invasion of England. These things were out of the beat;
and _are_. There may follow Hungarian, Polish, or other questions--but
there won't follow an English question unless the English _make_ it,
which, I grieve to think, looks every day less impossible.

Dear Mr. F., have you read 'La Foi des Traites,' written, some of it, by
L.N.'s own hand? Do you consider About's 'Carte de l'Europe' (as the
'Times' does) 'a dull _jeu d'esprit_'? The wit isn't dull, and the
serious intention, hid in those mummy wrappings, is not inauthentic.
Official--certainly not; but Napoleonic--yes. I believe so. And I seem
to myself to have strong reasons.

But you are sorry that Cavour loves popularity in England. I cried
rather bitterly, 'Better so!' A complete injustice comes to nearly the
same thing as a complete justice. Have we not watched for a year while
every saddle of iniquity has been tried on the Napoleonic back, and
nothing fitted? Wasn't he to crush Piedmontese institutions like so many
egg-shells? Was he ever going away with his army, and hadn't he occupied
houses in Genoa with an intention of bombarding the city? Didn't he keep
troops in the north after Villafranca on purpose to come down on us with
a Grand Duke at best, or otherwise with a swamping Kingdom of Etruria
and Plon-Plon to rule it? and wouldn't he give back Bologna to the Pope
bound by seven devils fiercer than the first, and prove Austria bettered
by Solferino? Also, were not Cipriani, Farini, and other patriots, his
'mere creatures' in treacherous correspondence with the Tuileries;
'doing his dirty work,' 'keeping things in suspense' till destruction
should arrange itself on falsehood? Have I not read and heard from the
most intelligent English journals, and the best-informed English
politicians (men with one foot and two ears in the Cabinet) these true
things written and repeated, and watched while they died out into the
Vast Inane and Immense Absurd from which they were born?

So I would rather have a rounded, complete injustice, as we can't have
the complete justice. After all, the thing done is only a nation saved.
Hurry up the men who did it on the same cord! Ought not Cavour to be
there?

And if the Savoy cession is a crime, he is criminal, he, who undeniably
from the beginning contemplated it, not as the price of the war, but as
the condition of a newly constituted Italy. And the condition implies
more than is understood, more than the consenting parties dare to
confess--can at present afford to confess--unless I am deceived by
information, which has hitherto justified itself in the event. Be
patient with me one moment--for if I differ from you, I seem to have
access to another class of facts than you see. If Italy, for instance,
expands itself to a nation of twenty-six millions, would you blame the
Emperor who 'did it all' (Cavour's own phrase) for providing an answer
to his own people in some small foresight about the frontier, when in
the course of fifty or a hundred years they may reproach his memory with
the existence of an oppressive rival or enemy next door? Mr. Russell
said to me last January 'Everything that comes out proves the Emperor to
have acted towards Italy like an Italian rather than a Frenchman.' At
which we applaud; that is, you, and Mr. R., and I, and the Italians
generally applaud. But--let us be just--_that_ would not be a
satisfactory opinion in France of the Head of the State, would it, do
you think? It was obviously his duty not to be negligent of certain
eventualities in the case of his own country, to be a 'Frenchman'
_there_.

Oh, Savoy has given me pain: and I would rather for the world's sake
that a great action had remained out of reach of the hypothetical
whispers of depreciators. I would rather not hear Robert say, for
instance: 'It was a great action; but he has taken eighteenpence for it,
which is a pity.' I don't think this judgment fair--and much worse
judgments are passed than that, which is very painful. But, after all,
this thing may have been a necessary duty on L.N.'s part, and I can
understand that it was so. For this loss of the Italians, _that_ is not
to be dwelt on; while for the Savoyards, none knew better than Cavour
(not even L.N.) the leaning of those populations towards France for
years back; it has been an inconvenient element of his government.
Whether there are or are not natural frontiers, there are natural
barriers, and the Alps hinder trade and make direct influence difficult;
and what the popular vote would be nobody here doubted. Be sure that
nobody did in Switzerland. The Swiss have been insincere, it seems to
me--talking of terror when they thought chiefly of territory. But I feel
tenderly for poor heroic Garibaldi, who has suffered, he and his
minority. He is not a man of much brain; which makes the subject the
more cruel to him. But I can't write of Garibaldi this morning, so
anxious we are after an unpleasant despatch yesterday. He is a hero, and
has led a forlorn hope out to Sicily, to succeed for Italy, or to fail
for himself. It's 'imprudence,' if he fails: if otherwise, who shall
praise him enough? it's salvation and glory.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

[Rome], 28 Via del Tritone: May 18, 1860 [postmark].

My dearest Fanny,--It seems to me that you have drunk so much England,
which cheers _and_ inebriates, as to have forgotten your Italian
friends. Here have I been waiting with my load of gratitude, till my
shoulders ache under it, not knowing to what address to carry it!
Sarianna sent me one address of your London lodgings, with the
satisfactory addition that you were about to move immediately. You
really _might_ have written to me before, unkindest and falsest of
Fannies! Or else (understand) you should not have sent me those graceful
and suggestive drawings, for which only now I am able to thank you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. It was very kind of you to let me have
them.

Then, pray how did you get my 'Poems before Congress'? Was I not to send
you an order? Here I send one at least, whether you scorn my gift or
not; and by this sign you will inherit also an 'Aurora Leigh.'

Yes, I expected nothing better from the 'British public,' which,
strictly conforming itself to the higher civilisation of the age, gives
sympathy only where it gives 'the belt.'[87] As the favorite hero says
in his last eloquent letter, 'In all my actions, whether in private or
public life, may I be worthy of having had the honor ... _of a notice in
the_ "_Times_,"' he concludes 'of the abuse of the "Saturday Review"'
&c., &c., say _I_.

For the rest, being turned out of the old world, I fall on my feet in
the new world, where people have been generous, and even publishers
turned liberal. Think of my having an offer (on the ground of that book)
from a periodical in New York of a hundred dollars for every single
poem, though as short as a sonnet--that is, for its merely passing
through their pages on the road to the publisher's proper. Oh, I shall
cry aloud and boast, since people choose to abuse me. Did you see how I
was treated in 'Blackwood'? In fact, you and all women, though you hated
me, should be vexed on your own accounts. As for me, it's only what I
expected, and I have had that deep satisfaction of 'speaking though I
died for it,' which we are all apt to aspire to now and then. Do you
know I was half inclined to send my little book to Mr. Cobden, and then
I drew back into my shell, with native snail-shyness.

We remain here till the end of May, when we remove back to Florence.
Meanwhile I am in great anxiety about Sicily. Garibaldi's hardy
enterprise may be followed by difficult complications.

Let us talk away from politics, which set my heart beating
uncomfortably, and don't particularly amuse you....

Have you read the 'Mill on the Floss,' and what of it? The author is
here, they say, with her elective affinity, and is seen on the Corso
walking, or in the Vatican musing. Always together. They are said to
visit nobody, and to be beheld only at unawares. Theodore Parker removed
to Florence in an extremity of ill-health, and is dead there. I feel
very sorry. There was something high and noble about the man--though he
was not deep in proportion. Hatty Hosmer has arrived in America, and
found her father alive and better, but threatened with another attack
which must be final. Gibson came to us yesterday, and we agreed that we
never found him so interesting. I grieve to hear that Mr. Page's
pictures (another Venus and a Moses) have been rejected at your Academy.

Robert deserves no reproaches, for he has been writing a good deal this
winter--working at a long poem[88] which I have not seen a line of, and
producing short lyrics which I _have_ seen, and may declare worthy of
him. For me, if I have attained anything of force and freedom by living
near the oak, the better for me. But I hope you don't think that I mimic
[him, or] lose my individuality. [Penini] sends his love with Robert's.
[He ri]des his pony and learns his Latin and looks as pretty as ever--to
my way of [thinking]. If you don't write directly, address to Florence.

We have another thick Indian letter for you, but Robert is afraid of
sending it till you give us a safe address.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

[Rome: about May 1860.]

[_The beginning of this letter is wanting_]

When the English were raging about Savoy, I heard a word or two from
Pantaleone which convinced me that the Imperial wickedness did not
strike him as the sin against the Holy Ghost precisely. In fact, I doubt
much that he (an intimate friend of Massimo d' Azeglio) knew all about
it before the war.

By the by, why does Azeglio write against Rome being the capital just
now? It seems to us all very ill-advised. Italy may hereafter select the
capital she pleases, but now her game ought to be to get Rome, as an
indispensable part of the play, as soon as possible. There are great
difficulties in the way--that's very sure. It's quite time, indeed, that
Mrs. Trollope's heart should warm a little towards the Emperor, for no
ruler has risked so much for a nation to which he did not belong (unless
he wished to conquer it) as Napoleon has for this nation. He has been
tortuous in certain respects--in the official presentation of the points
he was resolute on carrying--but from first to last there has been one
steady intention--the liberation of Italy without the confusion of a
general war. Moreover, his eyes are upon Venice, and have been since
Villafranca. What I _see_ in the very suggestion to England about
stopping Garibaldi from attacking the mainland was a preparation to the
English mind towards receiving the consequence of unity, namely, the
seizure of Venice. 'You must be prepared for that. You see where you are
going? You won't cry out when France joins her ally again!' Lord John
didn't see the necessity. No, of course he didn't. He never does see
except what he runs against. He protested to the last (by the Blue Book)
against G.'s attack; he was of opinion, to the last, that Italy would
be better in two kingdoms. But he _wouldn't intervene_. In which he was
perfectly right, of course, only that people should see where their road
goes even when they walk straight. And mark, if France had herself
prevented Garibaldi's landing, Lord John would simply have 'protested.'
_He said so._ France might have done it without the least inconvenience,
therefore, and she _did not_. She confined herself to observing that if
V.E. _might_ have Naples, he _must_ have Venice, and that there could be
no good in objecting to logical necessities of accepted situations. In
spite of which, every sort of weight was hung on the arms of France that
no aid should be given for Venetia. Certain things written to Austria,
and uttered through Lord Cowley, I can't forgive Lord John for; my heart
does not warm, except with rage. To think of writing only the other day
to an Austrian Court: '_All we can do for you_ is to use our strongest
influence with France that she should not help Italy against you in
Venetia. And in our opinion you will always be strong enough to baffle
Italy. Italy can't fight you alone.' The words I am not sure of, but the
idea is a transcript. And the threats uttered through Lord Cowley were
worse--morally hideous, I think.

Napoleon's position in France is hard enough of itself. Forty thousand
priests, with bishops of the colour of Mon. d'Orleans and company,
having, of course, a certain hold on the agricultural population which
forms so large a part of the basis of the imperial throne. Then add to
that the parties the 'Liberals' (so called) and others, who use this
question as a weapon simply. In the Senate and Legislative Body they
haven't forgotten how to talk, have they--these French? The passion and
confusion seem to have been extreme. After all, we shall get a working
majority, I do hope and trust, for all the intelligent supporters of the
Government are with us, and the Chamber will be dissolved at need. There
is talk of it already in Rome....

At last we see your advertisement. _Viva_ 'Agnes Tremorne'![89] We find
it in 'Orley Farm.' How admirably this last opens! We are both delighted
with it. What a pity it is that so powerful and idiomatic a writer
should be so incorrect grammatically and scholastically speaking! Robert
insists on my putting down such phrases as these: 'The Cleeve was
distant from Orley two miles, though it _could not be driven_ under
five.' '_One rises up the hill._' 'As good as _him_.' 'Possessing more
_acquirements_ than he would have _learned_ at Harrow.' _Learning
acquirements!_ Yes, they are faults, and should be put away by a
first-rate writer like Anthony Trollope. It's always worth while to be
correct. But do understand through the pedantry of these remarks that we
are full of admiration for the book. The movement is so excellent and
straightforward--walking like a man, and 'rising up-hill,' and not going
round and round, as Thackeray has taken to do lately. He's clever
always, but he goes round and round till I'm dizzy, for one, and don't
know where I am. I think somebody has tied him up to a post, leaving a
tether. Dearest Isa, the day before yesterday I had two letters from
Madame M---- to ask us to take rooms. He is coming directly to Rome. She
says he has much to tell me, and it's evident, of course, that an
Italian senator, native to the Roman States, wouldn't come here just now
without mission or permission. I am full of expectation, but will say no
more.

Dearest Isa, have I been long in writing indeed? You see, I let so many
letters accumulate which I hadn't the heart to reply to, that, on taking
up the account, I had over much to do in writing letters. Then I have
been working a little at some Italian lyrics. Three more are gone lately
to the 'Independent,' and another is ready to go. All this, with helping
Pen to prepare for the Abbe, has filled my hands, and they are soon
tired, my Isa, nowadays. When the sun goes down, I am down. At eight I
generally am in bed, or little after. And people will come in
occasionally in the day, and annul me. I had a visit from Lady Annabella
Noel lately, Lord Byron's granddaughter. Very quiet, and very intense, I
should say. She is going away, and I shall not see her more than that
once, I dare say; but she looked at me so with her still deep eyes, and
spoke so feelingly, that I kissed her when she went away. Another new
acquaintance is Lady Marion Alford, the Marquis of Northampton's
daughter, very eager about literature and art and Robert, for all which
reasons I should care for her; also Hatty calls her divine. I thought
there was the least touch of affectation of fussiness, but it may not be
so. She knelt down before Hatty the other day and gave her--placed on
her finger--the most splendid ring you can imagine, a ruby in the form
of a heart, surrounded and crowned with diamonds. Hatty is frankly
delighted, and says so with all sorts of fantastical exaggerations.

Tell me what you think of the photographs which Robert sends, with his
best love. I think the head perfect, and the other very poetical and
picturesque. I wish I had mine to send Kate, tell her with my dear love,
but I have not one, nor can get one. Perhaps I may have to sit again
before leaving Rome, and then she shall be remembered. And Robert will
give her his.

Pray don't apologise for your Borden. He is very much to be liked. Mrs.
Bruen is charmed. He has been three times to talk with me, and Robert
has called on him twice. Robert is quite vexed at your 'pretension'
about having friends not good enough for his acquaintance. Yes, really
he was vexed. 'Isa _never_ understood him--not she!'

Is there not reason, we may murmur? But the truth is he is always ready
(be pleased to know) to honour your drafts in acquaintanceship, and
chooses to be considered ready.

[_The remainder of this letter is wanting_]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

Florence: June 16, 1860 [postmark].

My dearest Fanny,--I must use my opportunity of sending you these
photographs, because I think you will care to have them. Peni is
_himself_, not a likeness, but an identity. _I_, like a devil, or the
Emperor Napoleon, am not as black as I seem; but Pen looks lovely enough
to satisfy my vanity.

Your Indian poet's letter was despatched to you from Rome, and 'so
Apollo saved me.' Oh--if you knew how I hate giving opinions! I think a
poet's opinion of another poet should be paid by some triple fee. I, at
least, always feel that after being ingenuous on these occasions and
advising persons who can barely spell against publishing their epic
poems, one is supposed to be secretly influenced by the fear of a rival
or worse. Give me a triple fee.

Poor dearest Fanny, of course you are in the chain; being in England.
You are moved to set down the Emperor as 'the Beast' 666, of course. If
he crushes 'Garibaldi you must give him up.' Yes; but what an If. If you
stab Miss Heaton with a golden bodkin, right through the heart, under
circumstances of peculiar cruelty, I shall have to give up _you_. If I
bake Penini in a pie and eat him, you'll have to give up me.

The Emperor Napoleon is faithful and will be faithful to the Italian
cause, and to the cause of the nationalities, as long as and wherever it
is prudent, for the general interest; possible without dangerous
complications. He has risked enough for it, to be trusted a little I
think--his life and dynasty certainly. At this moment I hear from Rome
of a great dinner given by Lamoriciere to his staff, or by his staff to
him (I don't know which), only that the health of _Henri Cinq_ was
suggested and drunk at it. Gorgon telegraphed the news to Paris. What
then? English newspapers (even such papers as the 'Daily News') have
stated that Lamoriciere was doing Napoleonic business at Rome. Perhaps
this is of it.

Chapman junior is in Florence (doing business upon Lever I believe), and
he maintains that I have done myself no mortal harm by the Congress
poems, which incline to a second edition after all. Had it been
otherwise I yet never should have repented speaking the word out of me
which burnt in me. Printing that book did me real good. For the rest
'Aurora Leigh' is in the press for a _fifth_ edition. Read the 'Word for
Truth by a Seaman,' written by a naval officer of high reputation.

We left Rome on the 4th of June, and travelled by vettura through
Orvieto and Chiusi. Beautiful scenery, interesting pictures and tombs,
but a fatiguing journey. At least, Pen's pony and I were both of us
unusually fatigued, and scarcely, at the end of a week, am I myself yet.
I am not as strong since my illness last summer. We stay here till the
early part of July and then remove to Siena, to the villa we had last
year; and there Pen keeps tryst with his Abbe and the Latin. He has made
great progress this winter in Latin and much besides, and he isn't going
to be a 'wretched little Papist,' as some of our friends precipitately
conclude from the fact of his having a priest for a tutor. Indeed Pen
has to be restrained into politeness and tolerance towards
ecclesiastical dignities. Think of his addressing his instructor (who
complained of the weather at Rome one morning) thus--in choice Tuscan:
'Of course it's the excommunication. The prophet says that a curse
begins with the curser's own house; and so it is with the Holy Father's
curse.' Wasn't that clever of Pen? and impertinent, but our Abbe only
tried at gravity; he sympathises secretly with the insorgimento d'
Italia, and besides is very fond of Pen. Poor Pen, 'innocent of the
knowledge, dearest chuck,' how his mama has been wickedly cursing her
native country (after Chorley)! It's hard upon me, Fanny, that you
won't tell me of the spirits, you who can see. Here is even Robert,
whose heart softens to the point of letting me have the 'Spiritual
Magazine' from England. Do knock at Mrs. Milner Gibson's doors till you
get to see the 'hands' and the 'heads' and the 'bodies' and the
'celestial garlands' which she has the privilege of being familiar with.
_Touch_ the hands. Has Mr. Monckton Milnes seen anything so as to
believe? Is it true that Lord Lyndhurst was lifted up in a chair? Does
he believe? I hear through Mr. Trollope and Chapman that Edwin Landseer
has received the faith, and did everything possible to persuade Dickens
to investigate, which Dickens refused. Afraid of the truth, of course,
having deeply committed himself to negatives. This is a moral _lachete_,
hard for my feminine mind to conceive of. Dickens, too, who is so fond
of ghost-stories, as long as they are impossible....

I can scarcely imagine the summer's passing without a struggle on the
Continent of Italy. It can't be, I think. At least we are prepared for
it here.

We find Wilson well. Mr. Landor also. He had thrown a dinner out of the
window only once, and a few things of the kind, but he lives in a
chronic state of ingratitude to the whole world except Robert, who waits
for his turn. I am glad to think that poor Mr. Landor is well;
unsympathetical to me as he is in his _morale_. He has the most
beautiful sea-foam of a beard you ever saw, all in a curl and white
bubblement of beauty. He informed us the other morning that he had
'quite given up thinking of a future state--he had _had_ thoughts of it
once, but that was very early in life.' Mr. Kirkup (who is deafer than a
post now) tries in vain to convert him to the spiritual doctrine. Landor
laughs so loud in reply that Kirkup hears him.

Pray keep Mr. ---- off till we have settled the independence and unity
of Italy. It isn't the hour for peace, and we don't want a second
Villafranca. By the way, I dare say nobody in England lays his face in
the dust and acknowledges, in consequence of the official declaration
of the Prussian Minister (to the effect that Prussia was to attack on
the crossing of the Mincio, and that nothing but the unexpected
conclusion of hostilities hindered the general war)--acknowledges that
Napoleon stands fully justified in making that peace. I cannot expect so
much justice in an Englishman. He would rather bury his past mistake in
a present mistake than simply confess it.

Now no more. May God bless you! Do be happy, and do write to me. We talk
of Paris and England for next year.

Your very affectionate
BA.

Robert's love and Pen's.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[Florence: about June 1860.]

I didn't write last time, dearest Sarianna, not only because of being
over-busy or over-tired, but because I had not the heart that day. Peni
had another touch of fever, and was forced to have a doctor and
cataplasms to his feet. It was only a day's anxiety, but I didn't like
writing just then. He had been in the sun or the wind or something. I
was glad to get away from Rome. There were two cases of fever in our
courtyard, and both the sun and the shade were _suspectes_. As far as
Pen is concerned, the evil was averted, and I assure you he is looking
in the full bloom of health, and we have been congratulated on all sides
on his appearance and growth since we returned to Florence. Riding so
much has agreed well with him; and the general results of the Roman
campaign cannot be said to be otherwise than favourable. Set down as
much for Robert. Everybody exclaims at his stoutness. In fact, never
since I have known him has he condescended to put on such an air of
_robustness_, there's no other word for it. Shall we give the glory to
Rome, or to _nux_, to which he is constant. For two years and a half he
has had recourse to no other remedy, and it has not yet failed to
produce its effect. How do you unbelievers account for that? At the same
time, I never would think of using it in any active or inflammatory
malady, and where a sudden revolution or _scosso_ is required from the
remedial agent.

We find poor Mr. Landor tolerably amenable to Wilson, and well in
health, though he can't live more than three months, he says, and except
when Robert keeps him soothed by quoting his own works to him, considers
himself in a very wretched condition, which is a sort of satisfaction
too. He is a man of great genius, and we owe him every attention on that
ground. Otherwise I confess to you he is to me eminently
unsympathetic....

If ---- 'turns Catholic,' as you say, on the ground of the organisation
of certain institutions, it will be a proof of very peculiar ignorance.
This power of organisation is _French_, and not Catholic. You look for
it in vain in Rome, for instance, except where the organisation comes
from France. The _soeurs de charite_, who are of all Catholic nations,
are organised entirely by the French. The institutions here are branch
institutions. In Rome the tendency of everything is to confusion and
'individuality' with separate pockets. Lamoriciere was in despair at it
all, and even now people talk of his resigning, though he gave a dinner
the other day to his staff, with the toast of '_Henri Cinq_.'

Individuality is an excellent thing in its place, and an infamous thing
out of it. In England we have some very successful efforts at
organisation--the post office, which is nearly perfect, and society, in
which the demarcation between class and class is much too perfect to be
humane. In other respects we are apt to fail.

We do not fail, however, in organisation only with regard to these
charitable institutions. We are very hard and unsympathetic in them. A
distinguished woman has been here lately--a Miss Cobbe (a fellow-worker
with Miss Carpenter)--who, having overworked herself, was forced by her
physician to come here for three months and rest, under dire penalties.
She went to Isa Blagden's, and returned to England and her work just
now. She is very acute, and so perfectly without Continental prejudices,
that she didn't pretend to much interest even in our Italian movement,
having her heart in England and with the poor. But she was much struck,
not merely with the order of foreign institutions, but with their
superior tenderness and sympathy. The account she gave of the English
workhouses and hospitals was very sad, very cruel, corresponding, in
fact, to what I have heard from other quarters.

Ah, Sarianna, 'charming old men' who call the Tuscans angels, except
that they lie (what an exception!), can be mistaken like others. _That_
passes for 'liberality,' does it? We are not angels, and we don't
lie--there's no more lying in Italy than in England, I begin to affirm.
Also, M. Tassinari was in prison, not a week but a month--and well did
he deserve it. We deal now in French coinage, and are to see no more
pauls after the middle of next month. Robert thinks it will destroy the
last vestige of our cheapness, but I am very favorable to a unification
of international coinage. It agrees with my theories, you know.

We are all talking and dreaming Garibaldi just now in great anxiety.
Scarcely since the world was a world has there been such a feat of arms.
All modern heroes grow pale before him. It was necessary, however, for
us all even here, and at Turin just as in Paris, to be ready to disavow
him. The whole good of Central Italy was hazarded by it. If it had not
been success it would have been an evil beyond failure. The enterprise
was forlorner than a forlorn hope. The hero, if he had perished, would
scarcely have been sure of his epitaph even.

And 'intervention' _does_ mean quite a different thing at Naples and in
Lombardy. In Lombardy there was the _foreign tyrant_. At Naples
Italians deal with Italians; and the Austrian influence is _indirect_.
So also at Rome. It is this which makes the difficulty of dealing with
Southern Italy and the difference of treatment which you observe in
certain French papers.

I am sure, though you don't like photographs, you say, that you will
find nothing lacking in what we send you and dearest Nonno of our
Penini. It isn't like him, it's himself. As for me, I murmur, in the
depths of my vanity, that like the Emperor Napoleon (and the devil) I'm
not so black as I'm painted; but I forgive everything for Pen's sake.
Robert is not very favourably represented, I think. The beard on the
upper lip had not been properly clipped, and makes the space seem too
long for him. Another time I will mend that. I was very unusually tired
after my journey, but am getting past it. Weather was hot; but within
two days we have had some cooling rain.

Give my best love to M. Milsand, beside the photographs, and thank him
for not being offended in his 'patriotism' by my Congress poems. If he
approved of the preface as he says, I can't see how he can have written
anything about 'intervention' which I would not accept. Nothing could
have ended the intervention of Austria, except the intervention of
France; and it was on that account that we feel the latter to be a great
and chivalrous action. Italy is grateful. And if France were in
difficulty she might count on this delivered nation, as on herself. In
spite of all the bad words hurled at me in every English newspaper and
periodical nearly (and I assure you I have been put in the pillory among
them) the poems are going into a second edition, Chapman says, and
'Aurora Leigh' into a fifth. Also Chapman junior, who has come out here
to see after Lever, smoothes me down a little about Robert, and says
that the sale is bettering itself, and that a new edition of the 'Poems'
will soon be wanted. I just now see a pleasant notice of myself in
'Bentley's Magazine.' Abuse of the 'Congress Poems,' of course. Then a
side stroke at 'Aurora Leigh,' which was original, of course, because
it's my way to stand alone and attack people; but the principal merit of
which otherwise was the suggestion of 'Lucille' (Lytton's new
poem)--'Lucille,' says the critic, being superior in holiness and virtue
and that sort of thing to 'Aurora'! Of course.

They subscribed in England five thousand pounds for Tom Sayers. There's
the advance of civilisation. Napoleon has gone to Baden to arrange the
world a little more comfortably, I hope.

Mr. Lewes and Miss Evans have been here, and are coming back to settle
into our congenial bosom. I admire her books so much, that certainly I
shall not refuse to receive her, though she is not a medium. Sarianna!

Your ever affectionate sister.

       *       *       *       *       *


The programme of the previous year was repeated in 1860. Returning from
Rome to Florence at the beginning of June, the Brownings in July went to
Siena to avoid the extreme heat of the summer at Florence, staying as
before at the Villa Alberti. Their visit to Siena was, however, rather
shorter than the previous one, lasting only till September.

There is no doubt that Mrs. Browning, during all this time, was losing
ground in point of health; and she now received another severe blow in
the news of the serious illness of her sister Henrietta (Mrs. Surtees
Cook). The anxiety lasted for several months, and ended with the death
of Mrs. Cook in the following winter.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

Villa Alberti, Siena: August 21, [1860].

I thank you, my dearest friend, from my heart for your letter, and the
ray of sunshine it brought with it. Do you know I was childish enough
to kiss it as if it knew what it did. I wish I could kiss _you_. Yes, I
have been very unhappy, not giving way on the whole, going about my work
as usual, but with a sense of a black veil between me and whatever I
did, sometimes feeling incapable of crawling down to sit on the cushion
under my own fig-tree for an hour's vision of this beautiful
country--sometimes in 'des transes mortelles' of fear.

But we must not be atheists, as a friend said to me the other day. I
hope I do not live quite as if I were. But it was a great shock from the
beginning. Henrietta always seemed so strong that I never feared that
way.

My first impulse was to rush to England, but this has been over-ruled by
everybody, and I believe wisely. With my usual luck I should just have
increased the sum of evil instead of bringing a single advantage to
anyone. The best thing I can do for the others, is to keep quiet and try
not to give cause for trouble on my account, to be patient and live on
God's daily bread from day to day. I had a crumb or two the day before
yesterday through Storm, who thought there might be a little less
pain--and here you have sent me almost a slice--may God be thanked! How
good you were to mention the doctor! It is grievous to me to think of
her suffering. Darling!

I knew how strong your sympathy and personal feeling would be, and, even
on that account, I had not the heart and courage to write to you. But
no, dearest friends, I did not receive the letter you speak of, though I
heard of your grief a good while afterwards. And so sorry I was--we both
were--so sorry for Fanny, so sorry for you! May God bless you all! How
the spiritual world gets thronged to us with familiar faces, till at
last, perhaps, the world here will seem the vague and strange world,
even while we remain.

Still, it is beautiful out of this window; and of public affairs in
Italy, I am stirred to think with the most vivid interest through all.
The rapture is not as in the northern war last year, because (you don't
understand that in England) last year we fought the Austrian and now it
is Italian against Italian,[90] which tempers every triumph with a
certain melancholy. Also the Italian question in the south was decided
in the north, and remained only a question of time, abbreviated (many
think rashly) by our hero Garibaldi. For the crisis, so quickened,
involves very serious dangers and most solemn thoughts. The southern
difficulty may be considered solved--so we think--but just now that very
solution opens out, as we all fear a new Austrian invasion in the north,
backed indirectly at least by Prussia and Germany, who will use the
opportunity in carrying out the coalition against France. There seems no
doubt of the mischief hatched at Toeplitz. I wish I had known that
England's influence was not used in drawing together those two powers.
Prussia deserves to be--what shall I say?--docked of her Rhenish
provinces? It would be a too slight punishment. She caused the
Villafranca halt (according to her official confession by the mouth of
Baron Schleinitz, last spring), and now this second time, would she
interrupt the liberation of Italy? The aspect of affairs looks very
grave. As to England, England wishes well to this country at this
present time, but _she will make no sacrifices_ (not even of her
hatreds, least of all, perhaps, of her blind hatreds), for the sake of
ten Italys. Tell dear Mr. Martin that after the speech for the Defences,
I gave up Lord Palmerston for ever. He plays double. He is too shrewd to
believe in the probability of invasions, &c., &c., but he wants a shield
to guard his sword-arm. The statesmanship of England pines for new
blood, for ideas of the epoch, and the Russell old-fogyism will not do
any more at all. These old bottles won't hold the new wine. People are
positively calling on the Muse and William Pitt. It's religion to hate
France, and to set up a 'Boney' as a 'raw head and bloody bones' sort of
scarecrow. But it won't do. As the Revolutionists say, 'E troppo tardi.'

I am not, however, in furies all day, dearest Mrs. Martin. (I answer
satisfactorily your question whether I am 'ever calm.') The newspapers
from various parts of Italy thunder down on us here, not to speak of
'Galignanis' and 'Saturday Reviews.' See how calm-blooded I must be to
bear the 'Saturday Review.' (I consider it a curiosity in vice,
certainly.) Then we have books from the subscription library in
Florence, and sights of the 'Cornhill,' and political pamphlets by the
book-post; nay, even the 'Spiritual Magazine,' sent by Chapman and Hall,
in the last number of which that clever and brave William Howitt (who,
like a man, is foolish sometimes) suggests gravely in an article that I
have lately been 'biologised by infernal spirits,' in order to the
production of certain bad works in the service of 'Moloch,' meaning, of
course, L.N. Oh! and did anyone tell you how Harriet Martineau, in her
political letters to America, set me down with her air of serene
superiority? But such things never chafe me--never. They don't even
quicken my pulsation. And the place we are passing the summer in is very
calm--a great lonely villa, in the midst of purple hills and vineyards,
olive-trees and fig-trees like forest-trees; a deep soothing silence. A
mile off we have friends, and my dear friend Miss Blagden is in a villa
half a mile off. This for the summer. Also, we brought with us from
Florence and dropped in a villino not far, our friend Mr. Landor (Walter
Savage), who is under Robert's guardianship, having quarrelled with
everybody in and out of England. I call him our adopted son. (You did
not know I had a son of eighty-six and more.) Wilson lives with him, and
Robert receives from his family in England means for his support. But
really the office is hard, and I tell Robert that he must be prepared
for the consequences: an outbreak and a printed statement that he
(Robert), instigated by his wicked wife, had attempted to poison him
(Landor) slowly. Such an extraordinary union of great literary gifts and
incapacity of will has seldom surprised the world. Of course he does not
live with us, you know, either here or in Florence, but my husband
manages every detail of his life, and both the responsibility and
trouble are considerable. Still he is a great writer. We owe him some
gratitude therefore.

Penini has his pony here, and rides with his father. We have had the
coolest summer I ever remember in Italy. I _could_ have been very happy.
But God, who 'tempers the wind,' finds it necessary for the welfare of
some of us to temper the sunshine also....

As the very poorest proof of gratitude for your letter, Robert suggests
that I should enclose this photograph of Penini and myself taken at Rome
this last spring. You will like to have them, we fancy, but it is
Robert's gift. I was half inclined last year to send you a photograph
from Field Talfourd's picture of me,[91] but I shrank back, knowing that
dear Mr. Martin would cry out at the flattery of it, which he well might
do. But this photograph from nature can't be flattered, so I hazard it.
You see the locks are dark still, not white, and the sun, in spite, has
blackened the face to complete the harmony. Pen is very like, and very
sweet we think.

Do, when you write, speak of yourself--yourselves. I hope you like the
'Mill on the Floss.'

Our love to dearest Mr. Martin and you.

Let me be as ever,

Your affectionate and grateful
BA.


       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

Villa Alberti, Siena, Sardegna: August 25, [1860].

My dearest Fanny,--I received your letter with thanks upon thanks. It
seemed long since I heard or wrote. I have been very sad, very--with a
stone hung round my heart, and a black veil between me and all that I
do, think, or look at. One of my sisters is very ill in England--my
married sister--an internal tumour, accompanied with considerable
suffering, and doubtful enough as to its issue to keep us all (I can
answer at least for myself) in great misery. Robert says I exaggerate,
and I think and know that consciously or unconsciously he wants to save
me pain. She went to London, and the medical man called it an anxious
case. We all know what that must mean. For a little time I was in an
anguish of fear, and though come to believe now that no great change any
way is to be expected quickly, you would pity what I feel when the
letters are at hand. May God have mercy on us all! I wanted at first to
get to England, but everyone here and there was against it, and I
suppose it would have been a pure selfishness on my part to persist in
going, seeing that the fatigue and the cold in England alone would have
broken me up to a faggot (though of not so much use as to burn) so that
I should have complicated other people's difficulties, without much
mending my own. Still it would have been comfort to me (however selfish)
to have just held her hand. But no. Oh, I am resigned to its being
wiser. I am shaken, even at this distance. She has three children
younger than my Peni. Don't let me talk of it any more.

You see, Fanny, my 'destiny' has always been to be entirely useless to
the people I should like to help (except to my little Pen sometimes in
pushing him through his lessons, and even so the help seems doubtful,
scholastically speaking, to Robert!) and to have only power at the end
of my pen, and for the help of people I don't care for. At moments
lately, thanks from a stranger for this or that have sounded ghastly to
me who can't go to smooth a pillow for my own darling sister. Now, I
_won't_ talk of it any more. After all I try to be patient and wait
quietly, and there ought to be hope and faith meantime.

The pen-utilities themselves don't pass uncontested, as you observe.
Yes, I see the 'Spiritual Magazine,' and remarked how I was scourged in
the house of my friends. Robert shouted in triumph at it, and hoped I
was pleased, and as for myself, it really did make me smile a little,
which was an advantage, in the sad humour I was in at the time.
'Biologised by infernal spirits since "_Casa Guidi Windows_"' yet 'Casa
Guidi Windows' was not wholly vicious it seems to me, nor 'Aurora'
utterly corrupt. And Mr. Howitt is both a clever man, and an honest and
brave man, for all his sweeping opinions. Biologised and be-Harrised
_he_ is certainly. What an extraordinary admiration! I wonder at _that_
more than at any of the external spiritual phenomena. Dearest Fanny, you
were very, very good and generous to take my part with the editor--but
_laissez faire_. These things do one no harm--and, for me, they don't
even vex me. I had an anonymous letter from England the other day, from
somebody who recognised me, he said, in some prodigious way as a great
Age-teacher, all but divine, I believe, and now gave me up on account of
certain atrocities--first, for the poem 'Pan'[92] in the 'Cornhill'
(considered _immoral_!) and then for having had my 'brain so turned by
the private attentions and flatteries of the Emperor Napoleon when I was
in Paris, that I have devoted myself since to help him in the
gratification of his selfish ambitions.' Conceive of this, written with
an air of conviction, and on the best information. Now, of the two
imputations, I much prefer 'the inspiration from hell.' There's
something grandiose about that, to say nothing of the superior honesty
of the position.

What a 'mountainous me' I am 'piling up' in this letter, I who want
rather to write of _you_....

Italy ought not to draw you just now, Fanny. We are all looking for war,
and wondering where the safety is. A Piccolomini said yesterday that it
was as safe at Rome as in Florence, which only proved Florence unsafe.
Austria may come down on Central Italy any day; and sooner or later
there must be war. The Storys are alarmed enough to avoid going back to
Rome until the end of November, when things may be a little arranged.
The indignation here is great against 'questa canaglia di Germania.'
Toeplitz means mischief both against France and Italy--that is plain.
The Prince of Prussia gave his 'parole de gentilhomme' meaning the word
of a rascal. My poor Venice! But you will see presently, only the fear
is that our fire here may flash very far. In any case, it would not be
desirable for Englishmen to come southwards this year. Our plans for the
winter depend entirely on circumstances. If we can go to Rome in any
reasonable security, I suppose we shall go. But I have no heart for
plans just now.

Dear Isa Blagden is spending the summer in a rough _cabin_, a quarter of
an hour's walk from here, and Mr. Landor is hard by in the lane. This
(with the Storys a mile off) makes a sort of colonisation of the country
here. Otherwise it's a solitude, 'very _triste_,' say the English, not
even an English church, even in the city of Siena. We get books from
Florence, and newspapers from everywhere, or one couldn't get on quite
well. As it is I like it very much. I like the quiet! the lying at
length on a sofa, in an absolute silence, nobody speaking for hours
together (Robert rides a great deal), not a chance of morning visitors,
no voices under the windows. The repose would help me much, if it were
not that circumstances of pain and fear walk in upon me through windows
and doors, using one's own thoughts, till they tremble. Pen has had an
abbe to teach him Latin, and his pony to ride on, and he and Robert are
very well and strong, thank God.

Thank you for your words on spiritualism. I have not _yet_ seen the last
'Cornhill.' It pleases me that Thackeray has had the courage to maintain
the facts before the public; I think _much the better of him_ for doing
so. Owen's book I shall try to get. There is a weak reference to the
subject in the 'Saturday Review' (against it), and I see an article
advertised in 'Once a Week,' all proving that the public is awaking to a
consideration of the class of phenomena. _Investigation_ is all I
desire. The 'Spiritual Magazine' lingers so this month that I fear, and
Robert hopes, something may have happened to it.

       *       *       *       *       *


On returning to Rome for the winter, which they did about September, the
Brownings found quarters at 126 Via Felice. The following letter was
written shortly after the death of Mrs. Browning's sister.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

[Rome: autumn 1860.]

In one word, my dearest Fanny, I will thank you for what is said and not
said, for sympathy true and tender each way. It is a great privilege to
be able to talk and cry; but _I cannot_, you know. I have suffered very
much, and feel tired and beaten. Now, it's all being lived down; thrown
behind or pushed before, as such things must be if we _are_ to live: not
forgetting, not feeling any tie slackened, loving unchangeably, and
believing how mere a _line_ this is to overstep between the living and
the dead.

Do you know, the first thing from without which did me the least good
was a letter from America, from dear Mrs. Stowe. Since we parted here in
the spring, neither of us had written, and she had not the least idea of
my being unhappy for any reason. In fact, her thought was to
congratulate me on public affairs (knowing how keenly I felt about
them), but her letter dwelt at length upon spiritualism. She had heard,
she said, for the fifth time from her boy (the one who was drowned in
that awful manner through carrying out a college jest) without any
seeking on her part. She gave me a minute account of a late
manifestation, not seeming to have a doubt in respect to the verity and
identity of the spirit. In fact, secret things were told, reference to
private papers made, the evidence was considered most satisfying. And
she says that all of the communications descriptive of the _state_ of
that Spirit, though coming from very different mediums (some high
Calvinists and others low infidels) tallied exactly. She spoke very
calmly about it, with no dogmatism, but with the strongest disposition
to receive the facts of the subject with all their bearings, and at
whatever loss of orthodoxy or sacrifice of reputation for common sense.
I have a high appreciation of her power of forming opinions, let me add
to this. It is one of the most vital and growing minds I ever knew.
Besides the inventive, the critical and analytical faculties are strong
with her. How many women do you know who are _religious_, and yet
analyse point by point what they believe in? She lives in the midst of
the traditional churches, and is full of reverence by nature; and yet if
you knew how fearlessly that woman has torn up the old cerements and
taken note of what is a dead letter within, yet preserved her faith in
essential spiritual truth, you would feel more admiration for her than
even for writing 'Uncle Tom.' There are quantities of irreverent women
and men who profess infidelity. But this is a woman of another order,
observe, devout yet brave in the outlook for truth, and considering, not
whether a thing be _sound_, but whether it be true. Her views are
Swedenborgian on some points, beyond him where he departs from orthodoxy
on one or two points, adhering to the orthodox creed on certain others.
She used to come to me last winter and open out to me very freely, and I
was much interested in the character of her intellect. Dr. Manning
tried his converting power on her. 'It might have answered,' she said,
'if one side of her mind had not confuted what the other side was
receptive of.' In fact, she caught at all the beauty and truth and good
of the Roman Catholic symbolism, saw what was better in it than
Protestantism, and also, just as clearly, what was worse. She admired
Manning immensely, and was very keen and quick in all her admirations;
had no national any more than ecclesiastical prejudices; didn't take up
Anglo-Saxon outcries of superiority in morals and the rest, which makes
me so sick from American and English mouths. By the way (I must tell
Sarianna _that_ for M. Milsand!) a clever Englishwoman (married to a
Frenchman) told Robert the other day that she believed in 'a special
hell for the Anglo-Saxon race on account of its hypocrisy.'...

Meanwhile you will care for Roman news, and I have not much to tell you.
I am very much in my corner, and very quiet. Robert, who has been most
dear and tender and considerate to me through my trial, kept all the
people off, and even now, when the door is open a little, gloomy
lionesses with wounded paws don't draw the public, I thank God, and I am
not much teased, if at all. Sir John Bowring came with a letter of
introduction, and intimate relations with Napoleon to talk of, and he
has confirmed certain views of mine which I was glad to hear confirmed
by a disciple of Bentham and true liberal of distinguished intelligence.
He said that nothing could be more ludicrous and fanatical than the
volunteer movement in England rising out of the most incredible panic
which ever arose without a reason. I only hope that if the volunteers
ever have to act indeed, they may behave better than at Naples, where
they left the worst impression of English morals and discipline. They
embarked to return home dead drunk all of them, and the drunkenness was
not the worst. Sir John Bowring has been ill since he came, so perhaps
he may go before I see him again. Then Madame Swab [Schwabe], whom I
slightly knew in Paris, has been with me to-day, talking on Italian
affairs. There is room for anxiety about the Neapolitans; but don't
believe in exaggerations: we shall do better than our enemies desire.
There will be war probably....

Robert has taken to modelling under Mr. Story (at his studio) and is
making extraordinary progress, turning to account his studies on
anatomy. He has copied already two busts, the Young Augustus and the
Psyche, and is engaged on another, enchanted with his new trade, working
six hours a day. In the evening he generally goes out as a
bachelor--free from responsibility of crinoline--while I go early to
bed, too happy to have him a little amused. In Florence he never goes
anywhere, you know; even here this winter he has had too much gloom
about him by far. But he looks entirely well--as does Penini. I am weak
and languid. I struggle hard to live on. I wish to live just as long as
and no longer than to grow in the soul.

May God bless you, dearest Fanny. Write.

America is making me very anxious just know. If they compromise in the
north it is a moral death, but a merely physical dissolution of the
States would be followed by a resurrection 'in honor,' and I should not
fear. What are you painting?

Your affectionate as ever
BA.

Did you see Lacordaire received? Those are things I care to see in
Paris, wishing, however, to Guizot, the king of Prussia, and all prigs,
the contempt they deserve.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

126 Via Felice, [Rome]:
Monday, [November December 1860].

Ever dearest Isa,--How you grieve me by this news of your being unwell.
Dear, I wondered at having no letter, and now with the letter and all
the proofs of your remembering me (newspaper and pens) comes the bad
word of your being ill....

I myself am not very well. I thought I was going to have a bad attack of
the oppression, but this morning it seems to have almost gone, and
without a blister! I had one night very bad. Probably a sudden call from
the tramontana brought it; even frost we had. Only, on the whole, and
considering accounts from other places, Rome has distinguished itself
for mildness this year; and I hope I shall keep from bad attacks, having
not much strength in body, nerve, or spirit to bear up resistingly
against them....

Sir John Bowring has been to see us. Yes, he speaks with great authority
and conviction, and it carries the more emphasis because he is not
without Antigallican prejudice, I observed. He told me that the panic in
England about invasion had reached, at one time, a point of phrenzy
which would be scarcely credible to anyone who had not witnessed it.
People were in terrors, expecting their houses to be burnt and sacked
directly. Placards of the most inflammatory character, calling
passionately on the riflemen to arm, arm, arm! He himself was hissed at
Edinburgh for venturing to say that the rifle-locks would be very rusty
if only used against invading Napoleons.

He told me that the Emperor's intentions towards Italy had been
undeviatingly ignored, and that whatever had seemed equivocal had been
misunderstood, or was the consequence of misunderstanding, or of the
press of some otherwise great difficulty. The Italian question was only
beginning to be understood in England. I said (in my sarcastic way) that
at first they had seemed to understand it upside down. To which he
replied that when, at the opening of the Revolution, he came over with
several English officers from India, they were _all prepared_ (in case
England didn't fight on the Hapsburg side) to enter the Austrian army as
volunteers to help them to keep down Italy.

But men like Mr. Trollope find it easy to ignore all this. It is we who
have done the most for Italy--we who did nothing! Yes, I admit so far.
We abstained from helping the Austrians with an open force.

That now we wish well to the Italian cause is true, I hope, but, at
best, it is a noble inconsistency; and that we should set up a claim to
a nation's gratitude on these grounds seems to me worse than absurd. The
more we are in earnest now, the more ashamed we should be for what has
been.

I have been sorry about Gaeta;[93] but there is somewhere a cause, and,
perhaps, not hard to find. That the Emperor is ready to do for Italy
_whatever will not sacrifice France_, I am convinced more than ever. And
even the Romans (who have benefited least) think so. One of the patriots
here, a watchmaker, was saying to Ferdinando the other day that he had
subscribed to Garibaldi's fund, and had given his name for Viterbo,[94]
but that there was one man in whom he believed most, and never ceased to
believe--Louis Napoleon. And this is the common feeling. Mr. Trollope
said that they only ventured to unbosom themselves to the English. Now
my belief is that the Italians seldom do this to the English, as far as
Napoleon is concerned. The Italians are _furbi assai_, and wish to
conciliate us, and are perfectly aware of our national jealousies. I
myself have observed the difference in an Italian when speaking to my
own husband before me and speaking to me alone.

Since we came here I have had a letter from Ruskin, written in a very
desponding state about his work, and life, and the world....

Life goes on heavily with me, but it goes on: it has rolled into the
ruts again and goes....

Write to me, my Isa, and love me.

I am your ever loving BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

[Rome: November-December 1860.]

 ... Now while I remember it let me tell you what I quite forgot
yesterday. If through Kate's dealing with American papers you get to
hear of a lyric of mine called 'De Profundis,'[95] you are to understand
that it was written by me nearly twenty years ago, _before I knew
Robert_; you will observe it is in my 'early manner,' as they say of
painters. It is a personal poem, of course, but was written even so, in
comparatively a state of retrospect, catching a grief in the rebound a
little. (You know I never _can_ speak or cry, so it isn't likely I
should write verses.) The poem (written, however, when I was very low)
lay unprinted all those years, till it turned up at Florence just when
poor Mrs. Howard's bereavement and Mr. Beecher's funeral sermon in the
'Independent' suggested the thought of it--on which, by an impulse, I
enclosed it to the editor, who wanted more verses from me. Now you see
it comes out just when people will suppose the motive to be an actual
occasion connected with myself. Don't let anyone think so, dear Isa. In
the first place, there would be great _exaggeration_; and in the
second, it's not my way to grind up my green griefs to make bread of.
But that poem exaggerates nothing--represents a condition from which the
writer had already partly emerged, after the greatest suffering; the
only time in which I have known what absolute _despair_ is.

Don't notice this when you write.

Write. Take the love of us three. Yes, I love you, dearest Isa, and
shall for ever.

BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

126 Via Felice, Rome:
Friday, [about December 1860].

I have not had courage to write, my dearest friend, but you will not
have been severe on me. I have suffered very much--from suspense as well
as from certainty. If I could open my heart to you it would please me
that your sympathy should see all; but I can't write, and I couldn't
speak of that. It is well for those who in their griefs _can_ speak and
write. I never could.

But to you after all it is not needful. You understand and have
understood.

My husband has been very good to me, and saved me all he could, so that
I have had solitude and quiet, and time to get into the ruts of the
world again where one has to wheel on till the road ends. In this
respect it has been an advantage being at Rome rather than Florence. Now
I can read, and have seen a few faces. One must live; and the only way
is to look away from oneself into the larger and higher circle of life
in which the merely personal grief or joy forgets itself.

For the rest even I ought to have comfort, I know. I believe that love
in its most human relations is an eternal thing. I do believe it, only
through inconsistency and much weakness I falter.

Also there are other beliefs with me with regard to the spiritual world
and the measuring of death, which ought, if I had ordinary logic, to
rescue me from what people in general suffer in circumstances like
these. Only I am weak and foolish; and when the tender past came back to
me day by day, I have dropped down before it as one inconsolable.

Dearest Mr. Martin--give him my grateful love for every kind thought,
and to yourself.

Now that page is turned.

I wish I knew that you were stronger, and at Pau. It is unfortunate that
just on this bitter winter you have been unable to get away from
England.

Here, though there was snow once, we have fared mildly as to climate.
And our rooms are very warm. Penini has his pony and rides, and studies
with his Abbe, and looks very rosy and well. I help him to prepare his
lessons, but that is all, except hearing him read a little German now
and then, and Robert sees to the music, and the getting up of the
arithmetic. For the first time I have had pain in looking into his face
lately--which you will understand.

I saw a man from Naples two days since, an Englishman of intelligence
and impartiality, who has resided there for months in the heart of the
politics. He told me that the exaggeration of evils was great. Evils
there were certainly; and no government succeeding Garibaldi's could
have satisfied a public trained to expect the impossible. Our poor
Garibaldi, hero as he is, and an honest hero, is in truth the weakest
and most malleable of men, and had become at last the mere mouthpiece of
the Mazzinians. If the Bourbons' fall had not been a little delayed,
north and south Italy would have broken in two. So I was assured by my
friend, who gave reasons and showed facts.

That the Neapolitans are not equal to the other Italians is too plain;
and if corrupt governments did not corrupt the government they would be
less hateful to all of us, of course. But a little time will give
smoothness to the affairs of Italy, and none of my old hopes are in the
meanwhile disturbed.

The design as to Rome seems to be to starve out the Pope by the
financial question; to let the rotten fruit fall at last as much by its
own fault as possible, and by the gentlest shake of the tree. I hear of
those who doubted most in the Emperor's designs beginning to confess
that he can't mean ill by Italy.

Possibly you and dear Mr. Martin think more just now of America than of
this country, which I can understand. The crisis has come earlier than
anyone expected. It is a crisis; and if the north accepts such a
compromise as has been proposed the nation perishes morally, which would
be sadder than the mere dissolution of States, however sad. It is the
difference between the death of the soul and of the body.

There might and ought to be a pecuniary compromise; but a compromise of
principle would be fatal.

I am anxious that before we go too far with the Minghetti project here
(separate administration of provinces) we should learn from America that
a certain degree of centralisation (not carried out too far) is
necessary to a strong and vital government. And Italy will want a strong
government for some years to come. There is much talk of war in the
spring, and if Austria will not cede Venetia war must be, even if she
should satisfy her other provinces, which she will probably fail to do.

This is a dull lecture, but you will pardon it and me.

I know all your goodness and sympathy. Do not think that _I_ think that
_any bond is broken_, or that anything is lost. We have been fed on the
hillside, and now there are twelve baskets full of fragments remaining.

May God bless you and love you both!

Your ever affectionate and grateful
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

126 Via Felice, Rome: Tuesday, [January 1861].

Ever dearest Isa,--I wrote a long letter, which you have received, I do
hope, and am waiting for a long one from you to tell me that you are not
suffering any more. This is on business merely--that is, it is merely to
give you trouble, the customary way for me to do business in these
latter days. Will you, dear, without putting yourself to too much
inconvenience by overhaste, direct the 'Nazione' people to send the
journal, to which we must subscribe for three months, to _S.E. le
General Comte de Noue, Comandante della piazza di Roma. No other name._
The General, who can do what he pleases, pleases to receive our paper
(our kind Abbe mediating) on condition that we do not talk of it, and so
at last I shall attain to getting out of this dark into the free upper
air. It is insufferable to be instructed by the 'Giornale di Roma' as to
how Cialdini writes to Turin that his Piedmontese are perfectly
demoralised, and that the besieged dance for triumph each time an
Italian cannon is fired into the vague. On the other hand, I hear
regularly every morning from the Romans that Gaeta is taken,[96] with
the most minute particulars, which altogether is exasperating. The last
rumour is of typhus fever in the fortress, but I have grown sceptical,
and believe nothing on either side now. One thing is clear, that it
wasn't only the French fleet which prevented our triumph....

Robert came home this morning between three and four. A great ball at
Mrs. Hooker's--magnificent, he says. All the princes in Rome (and even
cardinals) present. The rooms are splendid, and the preparations were in
the best taste. The Princess Ruspoli (a Buonaparte) appeared in the
tricolor. She is most beautiful, Robert says.

So you see our Americans can dance even while the Republic goes to
pieces. I think I would not do it. Not that I despair of America--God
forbid! If the North will be faithful to its conscience there will be
only an increase of greatness after a few years, even though it may rain
blood betwixt then and now. Mr. Story takes it all very quietly. He
would be content to let the South go, and accept the isolation of the
North as final. 'We should do better without the South,' said he. I
don't agree in this. I think that the unity of the State should be
asserted with a strong hand, and the South forced to pay taxes and
submit to law.

Mdme. Swab [Schwabe] told me that a friend of hers had travelled with
Klapka from Constantinople, and that K. had said, 'there would not be
war till next year,--diplomacy would take its course for the present
year.' Perhaps he did not speak sincerely. I can't understand how the
Austrian provinces will hold out in mere talk for twelve months more. Do
you mark the tone of the 'Opinion Nationale' on Austria, and about
Hungary being a natural ally of France, and also what is said in the
'Morning Chronicle,' which always more or less reflects the face of the
French Government? Then it seems to me that the Emperor's speech is not
eminently pacific, though he 'desires peace.' I hear from rather good
authority what I hope is possible, that Teliki accepted as a condition
of his liberation, not simply that he would not personally act against
Austria, but that he would use his endeavours to prevent any action on
the part of his compatriots. Men are base.

Mr. Prinsep[97] is here. Last autumn he made a walking tour into
Cornwall with Alfred Tennyson, to tread in the steps of King Arthur.
Tennyson was dreadfully afraid of being recognised and mobbed, and
desired to be called 'the other gentleman,' which straightway became
convertible now and then into 'the old gentleman,' much to his
vexation. But Mr. Prinsep is in the roses and lilies of youth, and
comparatively speaking, of course, the great Laureate was an ancient. He
is in considerable trouble, too by their building a fort in front of his
house on the southern coast of the Isle of Wight. I couldn't help saying
that he deserved it for having written 'Riflemen, arm!' It's a piece of
pure poetical justice, really.

Here I end.

Write to me, my Isa, and do me good with your tender, warm thoughts. Do
you think I have no comfort in feeling them stroke me softly through the
dark and distance?

May God love you, dearest Isa!

Always your loving
BA.

Robert's true love, and Pen's.

The weather is wonderfully warm. In fact, the winter has been very
mild--milder than usual for even Rome.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

126 Via Felice, Rome:
Tuesday, [about January 1861].

You really astonish me, dearest Fanny, so much by your letter, that I
must reply to it at once. I ask myself under what new influence
(strictly clerical) is she now, that she should write so? And has she
forgotten me, never read 'Aurora Leigh,' never heard of me or from me
that, before 'Spiritualism' came up in America, I have been called
orthodox by infidels, and heterodox by church-people; and gone on
predicting to such persons as came near enough to me in speculative
liberty of opinion to justify my speaking, that the present churches
were in course of dissolution, and would have to be followed by a
reconstruction of Christian essential verity into other than these
middle-age scholastic forms. Believing in Christ's divinity, which is
the life of Christianity, I believed this. Otherwise, if the end were
here--if we were to be covered over and tucked in with the Thirty-nine
Articles or the like, and good-night to us for a sound sleep in 'sound
doctrine'--I should fear for a revealed religion incapable of expansion
according to the needs of man. What comes from God has life in it, and
certainly from all the growth of living things, spiritual growth cannot
be excepted. But I shun religious controversy--it is useless. I never
'disturb anybody's mind,' as it is called--let those sleep who can. If I
had not known that _your_ mind was broken up rather broadly by truths
out of Swedenborg, I should not have mooted the subject, be sure. (Have
you given up Swedenborg? this by the way.) Having done so, I am anxious
to set you right about Mrs. Stowe. As the author of the most successful
book printed by man or woman, perhaps I a little under-rated her. The
book has genius, but did not strike _me_ as it did some other readers.
Her 'Sunny Memories,' I liked very little. When she came to us in
Florence some years ago, I did not think I should like her, nor did
Robert, but we were both of us surprised and charmed with her simplicity
and earnestness. At Rome last year she brought her inner nature more in
contact with mine, and I, who had looked for what one usually finds in
women, was startled into much admiration and sympathy by finding in her
a largeness and fearlessness of thought which, coming out of a clerical
and puritan _cul-de-sac_, and combined with the most devout and reverent
emotions, really is fine. So you think that since 'Uncle Tom' she has
turned infidel, because of her interest in Spiritualism. Her last words
to me when we parted, were, 'Those who love the Lord Jesus Christ never
see one another for the last time.' That's the attitude of the mind
which you stigmatise as corrupting.

With regard to 'Spiritualism,' so called, you might as well say
'_books_' are dangerous, without specifying the books. Surely you _know_
that every sort of doctrine is enjoined by these means, from Church of
Englandism to Free Love. A lady was with me this very morning, who was
converted from infidelity to Christianity solely by these means, and I
am told that thousands declare the same. As far as I am concerned, I
never heard or read a single communication which impressed me in the
least: what does impress me is the probability of there being
communications at all. I look at the movement. What _are_ these
intelligences, separated yet relating and communicating? What is their
state? what their aspiration? have we had part or shall we have part
with them? is this the corollary of man's life on the earth? or are they
unconscious echoes of his embodied soul? That anyone should admit a fact
(such as a man being lifted into the air, for instance), and not be
interested in it, is so foreign to the habits of my mind (which can't
insulate a fact from an inference, and rest there) that I have not a
word to say. Only I _see_ that if this class of facts, however
grotesque, be recognised among thinkers, our reigning philosophy will
modify itself; scientific men will conceive differently from Humboldt
(for instance) of the mystery of life; the materialism which stifles the
higher instincts of men will be dislodged, and the rationalism which
divides Oxford with Romanism (_nothing between_, we hear!) will receive
a blow.

_No truth can be dangerous._ What if Jesus Christ be taken for a medium,
do you say? Well, what then? As perfect man, He possessed, I conclude,
the full complement of a man's faculties. But if He walked on the sea as
a medium, if the virtue went out of Him as a mesmeriser, He also spoke
the words which never man spoke, was born for us, and died for us, and
rose from the dead as the Lord God our Saviour. But the whole theory of
spiritualism, all the phenomena, are strikingly _confirmatory_ of
revelation; nothing strikes me more than that. Hume's argument against
miracles (a strong argument) disappears before it, and Strauss's
conclusions from _a priori_ assertion of impossibility fall in pieces at
once.

Now I have done with this subject. Upon the whole, it seems to me better
really that you should not mix yourself up with it any more. Also I wish
you joy of the dismissal of M. Pierart. There was no harm that he took
away your headache, if he did not presume on that. You tell me not to
bid you to beware of counting on us in Paris. And yet, dearest Fanny, I
must. The future in this shifting world, what is it? As for me, whom you
recognise as 'so much myself,' dear, I have a stout pen, and till its
last blot, it will write, perhaps, with its 'usual insolence' (as a
friend once said), but if you laid your hand on this heart, you would
feel how it stops, and staggers, and fails. I have not been out yet, and
am languid in spirits, I gather myself up by fits and starts, and then
fall back. Do you know, I think with positive terror sometimes, less of
the journey than of having to speak and look at people. If it were
possible to persuade Robert, I should send him with Pen; but he wouldn't
go alone, and he must go this year. Oh, I daresay I shall feel more up
to the friction of things when once I have been out; it's stupid to give
way. Also my sister Arabel talks of meeting me in France, though I might
have managed that difficulty, but that Robert should see his father is
absolutely necessary. Meanwhile we don't talk of it, and by May or June
I shall be feeling another woman probably....

So you are going to work hard in Germany: that is well. Only beware of
the English periodicals. There's a rage for new periodicals, and because
the 'Cornhill' answers, other speculations crowd the market, overcrowd
it: there will be failures presently.

I have written a long letter when I meant to write a short one. May God
keep you, and love you, and make you happy! Your ever affectionate

BA.

I am anxious about America, fearing a compromise in the North. All other
dangers are comparatively null.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss E.F. Haworth_

126 Via Felice, Rome:
Saturday, [about January 1861].

Ah, dearest Fanny, I can't rest without telling you that I am sorry at
your receiving such an impression from my letter. May God save me from
such a sin as arrogance! I have not generally a temptation to it,
through knowing too well what I am myself. At the same time, I do not
dispute my belief in what you have so often confessed, that you don't
hold your attainments and opinions sufficiently 'irrespectively of
persons.' Believing which of you, I said, 'under what new influence?'
and if I said anything with too much vivacity, forgive me with that
sweetness of nature which is at least as characteristic of you as the
intellectual impressionability. Really I would not wound you for the
world--but I myself perhaps may have been over-excitable, irritable just
then, who knows? and, in fact, I _was_ considerably vexed at the moment
that, from anything said by me, you would infer what was so injurious
and unjust to a woman like Mrs. Stowe. I named her in this relation
because she struck me as a remarkable example of the compatibility of
freedom of thought with reverence of sentiment. You generally get one or
the other; the one excluding the other. I never considered her a deep
thinker, but singularly large and unshackled, considering the
associations of her life, she certainly is. When I hinted at her
stepping beyond Swedenborg in certain of her ideas, I referred to her
belief that the process called 'regeneration,' may _commence_ in certain
cases beyond the grave, and in her leaning to universal salvation views,
which you don't get at through Swedenborg.

For the rest, I don't think, if you will allow of my saying so, that you
apprehend Swedenborg's meaning very accurately always. If Swedenborg saw
sin and danger in certain communications, for instance, why did he
consider it privilege on his own part to live in the world of spirits as
he did. True, he spoke of 'danger,' but it was to those who, themselves
weak and unclean, did not hold 'by the Lord.' He distinctly said that in
the first unfallen churches there was incessant communion, and that the
'new church, as it grew, would approximate more and more to that earlier
condition. There is a distinct prospect given in Swedenborg of an
increasing aptitude in the bodies and souls of men towards communication
with the Disembodied. I consider that he foresaw not only what we are
seeing (if these manifestations be veritable) but greater and more
frequent phenomena of the same class,--which does not in any way exclude
considerable danger to some persons in the meanwhile. And do you think I
doubt _that_? No indeed. Unsettled minds, especially when under
affliction, will lose their balance at moments,--there is danger. It is
not the occasion for passion and fanaticism of sentiment, but for calm
and reasonable inquiry into facts. Let us establish the facts first, and
then '_try the spirits_' as the apostle directs; afterwards remains the
difficulty of assuring oneself of the personalities. I don't think you
should complain of the subject being unsatisfactory to you, because you
don't get 'a sublime communication,' or a characteristic evidence of
some spirit known to you. Much less would satisfy _me_. But it seemed to
me that the consideration of the subject disturbed you, made you
uncomfortable, and that you didn't approach any conclusion, and with
that impression and not because of 'contempt,' be sure, I advised you to
let it rest. Why should we beat our heads against an obstacle which we
can't walk through? Then your liability to influence is against you here
as much as your attraction towards such high speculations is in your
favour. You have an 'open mind,' yes, but you leave all the doors open,
and you let people come in every now and then, and lock them, and keep
them locked as long as said people stand by. The teachings of
Spiritualism are much like the teachings in the world. There are
excellent things taught, and iniquitous things taught. Only the sublime
communications are, as far as I know, decidedly absent. Swedenborg
directs you to give no more weight to what is said by a spirit-man than
by a man in the body, and there's room for the instruction. 'Heralds of
Progress' on one side, 'Heralds of Light' on the other, if a right thing
is said, 'judge ye.' If infidels are here, there are devout, yes, and
very orthodox Christians there.

I beg to say that when I speak of 'old cerements' being put off, I
pre-suppose a living body in resurrection. Also, I don't call
_marriage_, for instance, an old cerement. We must distinguish. With
regard to the common notion of a 'hell,' as you ask me, I don't believe
in it. I don't believe in any such thing as arbitrary reward or
punishment, but in consequences and logical results. That seems to me
God's way of working. The Scriptural phrases are simply symbolical, it
seems to me, and Swedenborg helps you past the symbol. Then as to the
Redemption and its mode--let us receive the thing simply. Dr. Adam
Clarke, whose piety was never doubted, used to say, 'Vicarious suffering
is vicarious nonsense.' Which does not hinder the fact that the
suffering of the Lord was necessary, in order that we should not suffer,
and that through His work and incarnation His worlds recovered the
possibility of good. It comes to the same thing. The manner in which
preachers analyse the Infinite, pass the Divine through a sieve, has
ceased to be endurable to thinking men. You speak of Luther. We all
speak of Luther. Did you ever _read_ any of his theological treatises.
He was a schoolman of the most scholastic sect; most offensive, most
absurd, presenting my idea of 'old cerements' to the uttermost. We are
entering on a Reformation far more interior than Luther's; and the
misfortune is, that if we don't enter we must drop under the lintel. Do
you hear of the storms in England about 'Essays and Reviews'? I have
seen the book simply by reviews in abstract and extract. I should agree
with the writers in certain things, but certainly not in all. I have no
sort of sympathy with what is called 'rationalism,' which is positivism
in a form. The vulgar idea of miracles being put into solution, leaves
you with the higher law and spiritual causation; which the rationalists
deny, and which you and I hold faithfully. But whatever one holds, free
discussion has become necessary. That it is full of danger; that, in
consequence of it, many minds will fall into infidelity, doubt, and
despair, is certain; but through this moral crisis men must pass, or the
end will be worse still. That's my belief, I have seen it coming for
years back.

'The hungry flock looks up and is not fed,' except with chopped hay of
the schools. Go into any church in England, or out of England, and you
hear men preaching 'in pattens,' walking gingerly, lest a speck of
natural moisture touch a stocking; seeking what's 'sound,' not what's
'true.' Now if only on theology they must not think, there will be soon
a close for theologians. Educated men disbelieve to a degree quite
unsuspected. That, I know of knowledge.

No! Swedenborg does not hold the existence of _devils_ in the ordinary
meaning. Spiritual temptation comes, he says, through disembodied
corrupt spirits, out of this or _other earths_. The word Satan,
remember, he conceives to represent a company of such evil spirits.

Now in what spirit have I written all this? Gently, this time, I do
hope. If you knew in what an agonised state of humiliation I am
sometimes, you would not suspect me of 'despising' you? Oh no, indeed.
But I am much in earnest, and can't 'prophesy smooth things,' at moments
of strong conviction. Who can?

Indeed, indeed, yes. I am very anxious about what passes in Paris. Do
you know that Keller's infamous discourse was _corrected by Guizot's own
hand_? Mr. Pentland (who was with the Prince of Wales) knows G. and
this. He (P.) has just come from Paris. He knows the 'sommites' there,
and considers that, though there is danger, yet on the whole the Emperor
dominates the situation. Prince N.'s speech, in its general outline, was
submitted to the E. and had his full sympathy, _Persigny said to_ P. or
in his presence. Let no one ever speak ill of Prince N. before me; I
read all the seventeen columns in the 'Moniteur,' and most magnificent
was the discourse. Rome is greatly excited, but hopeful. There may be
delay, however.

Surely you don't think the large head of Robert bad. Why, it is
exquisite.... I can't read over, and send this scratch that you may
pardon me before you go (not to lose the post).

Sarianna says that Squires carries about his own table. In which case, I
give him up. Don't _you_ write.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

126 Via Felice, [Rome: early in 1861].

Dearest dear Isa,--We don't get the paper. Will you ask why? Here's a
special address enclosed.

I have just heard from what seems excellent authority (_F.P._ Zanetti
has been here) that a French company is to be withdrawn from Rome
to-day, and that _all_ the troops will be immediately withdrawn from the
R.S., except Rome and Civita Vecchia. The French generals, however, were
not aware of this yesterday morning, though prepared for much, and thus
I can't help a certain scepticism. There is an impression in French
quarters, that the delay arises from a fear of a '_coup_' on the part of
Austria, if she didn't see France hereabouts. But Gorgon means to try to
get away before the crisis, which isn't in his tastes at all. De Noue
has gone--went yesterday.

I heard yesterday of Sir John Bowring telling somebody that _the time_
had resolved itself now into an affair of _days_. Still, there are
people I suppose who hold fast their opinions of the antique form, like
Mr. Massy Dawson, for instance, who called on me yesterday with
moustaches and a bride, but otherwise unchanged. He still maintains that
Napoleon will perish in defence of the Papacy, and that (from first to
last) he has been thwarted in Italy. 'I know that Sir John Bowring,
Diomed Pantaleone, Mrs. Browning' (bowing graciously to me in that
complimentary frame of body which befits disputants with female
creatures), 'and other persons better informed than I am, think
differently. And, in fact, if I looked only _at facts_ and at the
worldly circumstances of the case, I should agree with you all. But
reading the "Apocalypse" as I do, I find myself before a fixed
conclusion!' Imagine this, dearest Isa mine, his bride sitting in a
delicate dove-coloured silk on the sofa, as tame as any dove, and not
venturing to coo even. I suppose she thought it quite satisfactory. What
a woman with a brain could be made to suffer under certain casualties!
He quoted simply St. John and Mr. Kinglake! Mr. Kinglake plainly running
a little with St. John. 'Wasn't he (Kinglake) a member of Parliament,
and a lawyer?' And if his allegation wasn't true, and if Napoleon did
not propose to Francis Joseph to swap Lombardy for the Rhine provinces,
why was there no contradiction on the part of the French Emperor?

Now do mark the necessity of Napoleon's saying, 'I didn't really pick
Mr. Jones's pocket of his best foulard last Monday--no, though it hung
out a tempting end. Pray don't let the volunteers think so ill of me.'

That would have been '_like_' our Emperor--wouldn't it?

By the way, I had yesterday a crowd of people, and all at once, so that
I was in a flutter of weakness, and didn't get over it quickly. Mrs.
Bruen brought Miss Sewell (Amy Herbert) and Lady Juliana Knox, whom
Annunziata takes in as a homoeopathic dose, 'E molto curioso questo
cognome, precisamente come la medicina--_nux_ (tale quale).' She (Lady
Juliana) had just been presented to the Pope, just before his illness,
and was much touched, when at the close of the reception of
indiscriminately Catholics and Protestants, he prayed a simple prayer in
French and gave them all his benediction, ending in a sad humble voice,
'_Priez pour le pape._'

It _was_ touching--was it not? Poor old man! When you feel the human
flesh through the ecclesiastical robe, you get into sympathy with him at
once.

Miss Sewell will come and see me again, she promised, and then I shall
talk with her more. I couldn't get at her through the people yesterday.
She is very nice, gentle-looking, cheerful, respectable sort
of--single-womanish person (decidedly single) of the olden type; very
small, slim, quiet, with the nearest approach to a poky bonnet possible
in this sinful generation. I, in my confusion, did not glance at her
petticoats, but, judging _a priori_, I should predicate a natural
incompatibility with crinoline. But really I liked her, liked her. There
were gentleness, humility, and conscience--three great gifts. Of course
we can touch only on remote points; but I hope (for my own sake) we may
touch on these, and another day I mean to try. She said one thing which
I liked. Speaking of convents, she 'considered that women must
deteriorate by any separation from men.' Now that's not only true, but
it is not on the surface of things as seen from her standpoint.

I had a visit a day ago from M. Carl Gruen, a Prussian, with a letter of
introduction from Dall' Ongaro. I feel a real regard and liking for
Dall' Ongaro, and would welcome any friend of his. No--my Isa. I would
prefer him as my translator to any 'young lady of twenty.' Heavens,
never whisper it to the Marchesa, but I confide to you that my blood ran
cold at that thought. I know what poets of twenty must in all
probability be--Dall' Ongaro _is_ a poet, and has a remarkable command
of language.

I have tried my hand at turning into literal Italian prose (only marking
the lines) a lyric on Rome sent lately to America; and I may show it to
you one of these days.

Now I must send off this. In tender love.

Your BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

[Rome,] 126 Via Felice: March 20, [1861].

 ... Let me answer your questions concerning _Non Pio V.E._ Se non vero,
ben trovato. Very happy, and I hope true. Probably enough it may be
true, though I never heard it but from you. There was a banner with
'Viva Pio IX.' on one side, and 'Viva V.E. re d'Italia' on the
other--that's true. And various devices we have had, miraculous rains of
revolutionary placards among the rest. The French have taken to
'protect' our demonstrations here, half by way of keeping them under,
perhaps--although the sympathy between the people and the troops (Gorgon
apart) has been always undeniable. You know there was to be a gigantic
demonstration to meet the declaration in the North. It was fixed to
spread itself over three days. The French politely begged the 'papalini'
to keep out of sight, and then they marched with the Roman demonstration
for two days--twenty thousand Romans gathered together, I hear from
those who were there, the greatest order observed--tricolors insinuated
into the costume of all the women. After a certain time, French officer
turns round and addresses the populace 'Gioventu Romana, basta cosi.
Adesso bisogna andare a casa, poiche mi farebbe grandissimo dispiacere
d' aprire ad alcuno la strada delle carceri.' The last words said
smiling--as words to the wise. 'Grazie, grazie, grazie' were replied on
all sides, and the people dispersed in the best humour possible.
Yesterday (San Giuseppe) we were to have had it repeated, but it rained
hard, which was fortunate, perhaps; and I hear something of cannons
being placed in evidence, and of Gorgon saying 'de haute voix' that he
couldn't allow it to go on. But everybody understands Gorgon. He has
certainly, up to a point, Papal sympathies, and is as tender as he dares
be to the Holy Father, and the irritation and wrath of the priestly
party is naturally great. On the other hand, the whole body of French
troops and their officers are as much vexed by Gorgon as Gorgon can vex
me, and there's fraternisation with the Romans to an extraordinary
degree.

Penini came home three days ago in a state of ecstasy. 'No--he never had
been so happy in all his life. Oh mama, I _am_ so happy!' What had
happened, I asked. Why, Pen, being on the Pincio, had fallen on the
French troops, had pushed through, and heard 'l'ordre du jour' read, had
made friends with 'ever so many captains,' had marched in the ranks
round the Pincio and into the _caserne_, had talked a great deal about
Chopin, Stephen Heller, &c., with musical officers, and most about
politics, and had been good-naturedly brought back to our door because
he was 'too little to come alone through the crowd.' What had they not
told him? Such things about Italy. 'They hoped,' said Pen, 'that _I
would not think_ they were like the Papalini. No indeed. They hoped I
knew the French were different quite; and that, though they protected
the Holy Father, they certainly didn't mean to fight for him. What
_they_ wanted was V.E. King of Italy. _Napoleon veut l'Italie libre._ I
was to _understand that, and remember it_.' The attention, and the
desire to conciliate Pen's good opinion, had perfectly turned the
child's head. It will be 'dearest Napoleon' more than ever. Of course,
he had invited the officers to 'come in and see mama,' only they were
too discreet for this.

Pantaleone is exiled--ordered to go in eight days, three of which are
passed. He is still in hopes of gaining more time, but the Pope is said
to be resolutely set against him. I am very sorry, not surprised. He
told Robert yesterday, that nothing can be surer than that Napoleon has
been throughout a true friend to Italy. Which is a good deal for a man
to admit who began with all the irritation against Napoleon of a Roman
of 1849. Even after the war, through Villafranca, the bad feeling
returned, and as he lives so much among the English, it was only natural
that he should receive certain influences. He is with Odo Russell (who
calls him Pant) nearly every day, and Mr. Cartwright is very intimate
with him besides. But P. is above all things Italian, and the Italian of
the most _incisive_ intellect I ever talked with. He praises Lord John.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[Rome,] [end of March] 1861 [postmark].

We take ourselves to be dismally aggrieved, ever dearest Sarianna, by
your criticisms on our photographs. After deep reflection I can't help
feeling sure (against Robert's impression) that he sent you--not the
right one, but one which has undeniably a certain 'grin.' I prevail with
him to let you have the _two-third likeness_ this time, in order to
decide the point. If you keep your opinion, why then all artistic Rome
is against you without exception. Nobody likes the sepia-coloured thing
of last year in comparison. Every album in Rome gives up its dead and
insists on the new likeness--not only is it considered more like, but so
infinitely superior in expression and poetical _convenance_, that it
_ought_ to be more like. So everybody thinks. With regard to the head, I
am of opinion that the head is beautiful, and the eyes singularly full
of expression for photographed eyes, but there may be more difference of
opinion about the head. The _two-third view_ you certainly can't have
seen. Why, we had even resolved (as we couldn't hope to grow younger) to
stand or fall with posterity by this production. 'Ecco!'

As to age--no! it's cruel of you to talk so. Robert's beard was
tolerably white when he was in Paris last, and, in fact, his moustache
is less so than the rest, therefore there can't be, and isn't in this
respect, so rapid a 'decline and fall' in his appearance. The clipping
of the side whiskers, which are very grey, is an advantage, and as to
the hair, it is by no means cut short. 'Like an _epicier_?' No indeed.
The _epicier_ is bushy and curly about the ears (see an example in
'Galignani'), and moreover will keep the colour of the curl 'if he dyes
for it'--an extremity to which Robert and I will never be driven--having
too much the fear of attentive friends and affectionate biographers
before our eyes--as suggested by poor Balzac's. But Robert is looking
remarkably well and young--in spite of all lunar lights in his hair.
Though my hair keeps darker with a certain sprinkle however, underneath
which forces its way outwards, I would willingly change on the whole
with him, if he were not my own Robert. He is not thin or worn, as I
am--no indeed--and the women adore him everywhere far too much for
decency. In my own opinion he is infinitely handsomer and more
attractive than when I saw him first, sixteen years ago--which does not
mean as much as you may suppose, that I myself am superannuated and
wholly anile, and incompetent therefore for judgment. No, indeed, I
believe people in general would think the same exactly. And as to the
modelling--well, I told you that I grudged a little the time from his
own particular art--and that is true. But it does not do to dishearten
him about his modelling. He has given a great deal of time to anatomy
with reference to the expression of form, and the clay is only the new
medium which takes the place of drawing. Also, Robert is peculiar in his
ways of work as a poet. I have struggled a little with him on this
point--for I don't think him right--that is to say, it wouldn't be right
for me--and I heard the other day that it wouldn't be right for
Tennyson. Tennyson is a regular worker, shuts himself up daily for so
many hours. And we are generally so made that a regular hour is good,
even for so uncertain an influence as mesmerism. But Robert waits for an
inclination--works by fits and starts--he can't do otherwise he
says.[98] Then reading hurts him. As long as I have known him he has not
been able to read long at a time--he can do it now better than in the
beginning of time. The consequence of which is that he wants occupation
and that an active occupation is salvation to him with his irritable
nerves, saves him from ruminating bitter cud, and from the process which
I call beating his dear head against the wall till it is bruised, simply
because he sees a fly there, magnified by his own two eyes almost
indefinitely into some Saurian monster. He has an enormous superfluity
of vital energy, and if it isn't employed, it strikes its fangs into
him. He gets out of spirits as he was at Havre. Nobody understands
exactly why--except me who am in the inside of him and hear him breathe.
For the peculiarity of our relation is, that even when he's displeased
with me, he thinks aloud with me and can't stop himself. And I know
ultimately that whatever takes him out of a certain circle (where habits
of introvision and analysis of fly-legs are morbidly exercised), is life
and joy to him. I wanted his poems done this winter very much--and here
was a bright room with three windows consecrated to use. But he had a
room all last summer, and did nothing. Then, he worked himself out by
riding for three or four hours together--there has been little poetry
done since last winter, when he did much. He was not inclined to write
this winter. The modelling combines body-work and soul-work, and the
more tired he has been, and the more his back ached, poor fellow, the
more he has exulted and been happy--'_no, nothing ever made him so happy
before_'--also the better he has looked and the stouter grown. So I
couldn't be much in opposition against the sculpture--I couldn't, in
fact, at all. He has the material for a volume, and will work at it this
summer, he says. His power is much in advance of 'Strafford,' which is
his poorest work of all. Oh, the brain stratifies and matures
creatively, even in the pauses of the pen.

At the same time his treatment in England affects him naturally--and for
my part I set it down as an infamy of that public--no other word. He
says he has told you some things you had not heard, and which, I
acknowledge, I always try to prevent him from repeating to anyone. I
wonder if he has told you besides (no, I fancy not) that an English lady
of rank, _an acquaintance of ours_ (observe that!), asked, the other
day, the American Minister whether 'Robert was not an American.' The
Minister answered 'Is it possible that _you_ ask me _this_? Why, there
is not so poor a village in the United States where they would not tell
you that Robert Browning was an Englishman, and that they were very
sorry he was not an American.' Very pretty of the American Minister--was
it not?--and literally true besides.

I have been meditating, Sarianna, dear, whether we might not make our
summer out at Fontainebleau in the picturesque part of the forest. It
would be quiet, and not very dear. And we might dine together and take
hands as at Havre--for we will all insist on Robert's doing the
hospitality. I confess to shrinking a good deal about the noise of
Paris--we might try Paris later. What do you say? The sea is so very
far--it is such a journey--it looks so to me just now. And the south of
France is very hot--as hot as Italy--besides making you pay greatly 'for
your whistle.' Switzerland would increase both expenses and journey for
everybody. Fontainebleau is said to be delicious in the summer, and if
you don't mind losing your sea bathing, it might answer. Arabel wants me
to go to England, but as _I did not last year_ my heart and nerves
revolt from it now. Besides, we belong to the nonno and you this
summer. Arabel can and, I dare say, will join us. And Milsand? You say
'once in three years.' Not quite _so_, I think. In any case, it has been
far worse with some of mine. All the days of the three times of meeting
in fourteen years, can only be multiplied together into _three weeks_;
and this after a life of close union! Also, it was not _her_ fault--she
had not pecuniary means. I am bitter against myself for not having gone
to England for a week or two in the Havre year. I could have done it,
Robert would have let me. But now, no more. It was the war the year
before last, and my unsteadiness of health last year, which kept us from
our usual visit to you. This time we shall come.

Only we shall avoid the Alps, coming and going, out of prudence. Then,
for next winter, we return to Rome....

Why do you believe all the small gossip set in movement by the Emperor's
enemies, in Paris, against his friends, as in foreign countries against
himself? It's a league of lies against him and his. 'Intriguing
lacqueys.' That's a sweeping phrase for all persons of distinction in
France, except members of the Opposition. That men like De Morny and
Walewski may speculate unduly I don't doubt, but even the 'Times' says
now that these things have been probably exaggerated. I have heard great
good of both these men. As to Prince Napoleon, he has spoken like a man
and a prince. We are at his feet here in Italy. Tell our dear friend
Milsand that I read the seventeen columns of the speech in the
'Moniteur.' Robert said 'magnificent.' I had tears in my eyes. There may
have been fault in the P.'s private life--and may be still. Where is a
clean man? But for the rest, he has done and spoken worthily--and what
is better, we have reason to believe here that the Emperor sympathises
with him wholly. Odo Russell knows the Prince--says that he is
'petillant d'esprit' and has great weight with the Emperor.

[_The remainder of this letter is missing_]

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Mrs. Martin_

[Rome,] 126 Via Felice: [April 1861].

[My] very dear friends, how am I to thank [you] both? I receive the
photograph with a heart running over. It is perfect. Never could a
likeness be more satisfactory. It is himself. Form, expression, the
whole man and soul, on which years cannot leave the least dint of a
tooth. The youthfulness is extraordinary. We are all crying out against
our 'black lines' (laying them all to the sun of course!) and even
pretty women of our acquaintance in Rome come out with some twenty years
additional on their heads, to their great dissatisfaction. But my dear
Mr. Martin is my dear Mr. Martin still, unblacked, unchanged, as when I
knew him in the sun long ago, when suns were content to make funny
places, instead of drawing pictures! How good of dearest Mrs. Martin (it
was she, I think!) to send this to me! I wish she (or he) had sent me
hers besides. (How grasping some of us are!)

Then she sent me a short time since a book for my Peni, which he seized
on with blazing eyes and an exclamation, 'Oh, what fun!' A work by his
great author, Mayne Reid, who outshines all other authors, unless it's
Robinson Crusoe, who, of course, wrote his own life. It was so very very
good of you. Robert had repeatedly tried in Rome to buy a new volume of
Mayne Reid for the child, and never could get one. Our drawback in Rome
relates to books. We subscribe to a French library (not good) and snatch
at accidental 'waifs,' and then the newspapers (which I intrigue about,
and get smuggled through the courteous hands of French generals) are
absorbing enough.

I had a letter from George yesterday with good news of dearest Mrs.
Martin. May it be true. But I can't understand whether you have spent
this winter in Devonshire or Worcestershire, or where. The thick gloom
of it is over now, yet I find myself full of regrets. It's so hard to
have to get out into the workday world, daylight, open air and all, and
there's a duty on me to go to France, that Robert may see his father.
You would pity me if you could see how I dread it. Arabel will meet me,
and spend at least the summer with us, probably in the neighbourhood of
Paris, and after just the first, we--even I--may be the happier. Don't
tell anyone that I feel so. I should like to go into a cave for the
year. Not that I haven't taken to work again, and to my old interests in
politics. One doesn't quite rot in one's selfishness, after all. In
fact, I think of myself as little as possible; it's the only way to bear
life, to throw oneself out of the personal.

And my Italy goes on well in spite of some Neapolitan troubles, which
are exaggerated, I can certify to you. Rome, according to my information
as well as my instincts, approaches the crisis we desire. In respect to
Venetia, we may (perhaps must) have a struggle for it, which might have
been unnecessary if England had frankly accepted co-action with France,
instead of doing a little liberalism and a great deal of suspicion on
her own account. As it is, there's an impression in Europe that
considerations about the East (to say nothing of the Ionian Islands)
will be stronger than Vattel, and forbid our throwing over our 'natural
ally' for the sake of our 'natural enemy.'

I am sure you must have been anxious lately on account of America. There
seems to be a good deal of weakness, even on the part of Lincoln, who,
if he had not the means of defending Fort Sumter and maintaining the
Union, should not have spoken as he did. Not that it may not be as well
to let the Southern States secede. Perhaps better so. What I feared most
was that the North would compromise; and I fear still that they are not
heroically strong on their legs on the _moral question_. I fear it much.
If they can but hold up it will be noble.

We remain here (where we have had the mildest of winters) till somewhat
late in May, when we go to Florence for a week or two on our way to
Paris.

You see my Emperor is 'crowning the edifice';[99] it is the beginning.
Sir John Bowring says that the more liberty he can give, the better he
will like it. _He told Sir John so._

Is it right and loyal meanwhile of Guizot and his party to oppose the
Empire by upholding the enemies of Italy? I ask you. Such things I hear
from Paris! Guizot corrected Keller's speech with his own hand.

May God bless you! Pen's love and gratitude. If Robert were here he
would be named. Love me and think of me a little.

Your ever affectionate and grateful
BA.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

[Rome]: May 11, 1861 (postmark).

Your account of the dearest nonno was very pleasant on the whole, only,
of course, you will be very careful with him. And then, dearest
Sarianna, you yourself have not been well. The grippe seems to have been
bitter against you. This is the time of year when it generally rages,
and even Pen has had a small cough, which makes me austere about hours.
In fact, the weather in the north has reverberated here, and we have
paid for our mild winter by a considerable lingering of cold wind, from
snow on the mountains, they say. As for me, it's much to my disadvantage
in getting air and strength. I hope you are quite well again, as is Pen,
and that the loved nonno is as strong as he ever was. Do you get good
wine for him? The vintages are said to have suffered (which grieves me
for poor dear Milsand) from the frost. We hear of travellers in
snowstorms through England, where the cold has been great, and that in
Paris, too, there has been snow. I do hope the opening summer will not
copy the last.

Dearest Sarianna, try to find out if Fontainebleau is damp, because I
was assured the other day that it was, besides being subject to intense
heats. Also, will you see if there is a completed railroad to Trouville?
Robert denies that sea-air ever disagrees with him (sea-_bathing_ does),
and it may be good for you and for Pen, to say nothing of Arabel, who is
coming in the course of the summer. The objection is the journey, but if
the railroad is there, it would not prolong the journey (in relation to
Fontainebleau) more than two or three hours, if so much, would it? We
ought to inquire a little beforehand. We shall get to you as early as we
can. The weather is against us everywhere. We shall cut Florence quite
short. By the way, we have the satisfaction of seeing a precipitation of
the Tuscan funds down, down, which only makes Robert wish for more power
of 'buying in,' causing the eyes of a Florentine Frescobaldi to open in
wonder at so much audacity. But Robert, generally so timid in such
things, has caught a flush of my rashness, and is alarmed by neither
sinking funds nor rising loans. We have a strong faith in Italy--_Italia
fatta_--particularly since that grand child, Garibaldi, has turned good
again. The troubles in the Neapolitan States are exaggerated, are
perilous even so, and I dare say Milsand thinks we are all going to
pieces, but _we shall not_; there are great men here, and there will be
a great nation presently. An Australian Englishman, very acute, and free
from the political faults (as I see them) of England, did all he could
to prepare me for failure in Italy, 'to save my heart from breaking,' as
he said. And we have had drawbacks since then, yet my hope remains as
strong.

The Duchesse de Grammont (French Embassy) sent us a card for
Penini--'matinee d'enfants'--and he went, and was rather proud of being
received under a full-length portrait of Napoleon, who is as dear as
ever to him. It was a very splendid affair, quite royal. Pen wore a
crimson velvet blouse, and was presented to various small Italian
princes, Colonnas, Dorias, Piombinos, and had the honor of talking
ponies and lessons and playing leap-frog with them. The ambassador's own
boy, the little Grammont, has a pony 'tale quale' like Pen's, only
superannuated rather, which gives us the advantage....

I wonder if he will confide to you his tender admiration for the young
queen of Naples, whom, between you and me, he pursues, and receives in
return ever so many smiles from that sad lovely face. When charged with
a love affair, Pen answered gravely, that he 'did feel a kind of
_interest_.' He told us that two days since she stood up in her carriage
three times to smile at him. Something, it may be for the pony's sake;
but also, Pen confessed, to an impression that his new jacket attracted!
Fancy little Pen! Robert says she is very pretty, and for Pen (who makes
it a point of conscience to consider the whole 'razza' of Bourbons and
Papalini as 'questi infami _birboni_') to be so drawn, there must be a
charm. After all, poor little creature, she acted heroically from her
point of sight, and if the king had minded her, he would have made
liberal concessions _in time_ perhaps. The wretched queen-mother and
herself were at daggers drawn from the beginning.

I hear that Jessie Mario and her husband have been taken up at Ferrara.
They were _only_ going to begin the war with Austria on their own
account. Mazzini deserves what I should be sorry to inflict. He is a man
without conscience. And that's no reason why Jessie and her party should
use him for _theirs_. Mario is only the husband of his wife.

Robert has brought me home a most perfect copy of a small torso of
Venus--from the Greek--in the clay. It is wonderfully done, say the
learned. He says 'all his happiness lies in clay now'; _that_ was his
speech to me this morning. _Not_ a compliment, but said so sincerely and
fervently, that I could not but sympathise and wish him a life-load of
clay to riot in. It's the mixture of physical and intellectual effort
which makes the attraction, I imagine. Certainly he is very well and
very gay.

I am happy to see that the 'North British Quarterly' has an article on
him. That gives hope for England. Thackeray has turned me out of the
'Cornhill' for indecency, but did it so prettily and kindly that I, who
am forgiving, sent him another poem. He says that plain words permitted
on Sundays must not be spoken on Mondays in England, and also that his
'Magazine is for babes and sucklings.' (I thought it was for the
volunteers.)

May God bless you, dearest Sarianna and nonno! Pen's love.

       *       *       *       *       *


The incident alluded to in the last paragraph deserves fuller mention,
for the credit it does to both parties concerned in it. The letters that
passed between Thackeray and Mrs. Browning on the subject have been
given by Mrs. Richmond Ritchie in the 'Cornhill Magazine' for July 1896,
from which I am allowed to quote them. Mrs. Browning, in reply to a
request from Thackeray for contributions to the then newly established
'Cornhill,' had sent him, among other poems, 'Lord Walter's Wife,'[100]
of which, though the moral is unimpeachable, the subject is not
absolutely _virginibus puerisque_. The editor, in this difficulty, wrote
the following admirable letter:--

       *       *       *       *       *


_W.M. Thackeray to Mrs. Browning._

36 Onslow Square: April 2, 1861.

My dear, kind Mrs. Browning,--Has Browning ever had an aching tooth
which must come out (I don't say _Mrs._ Browning, for women are much
more courageous)--a tooth which must come out, and which he has kept for
months and months away from the dentist? I have had such a tooth a long
time, and have sate down in this chair, and never had the courage to
undergo the pull.

This tooth is an allegory (I mean _this_ one). It's your poem that you
sent me months ago, and who am I to refuse the poems of Elizabeth
Browning and set myself up as a judge over her? I can't tell you how
often I have been going to write and have failed. You see that our
Magazine is written not only for men and women but for boys, girls,
infants, sucklings almost; and one of the best wives, mothers, women in
the world writes some verses which I feel certain would be objected to
by many of our readers. Not that the writer is not pure, and the moral
most pure, chaste, and right, but there are things _my_ squeamish public
will not hear on Monday, though on Sundays they listen to them without
scruple. In your poem, you know, there is an account of unlawful
passion, felt by a man for a woman, and though you write pure doctrine,
and real modesty, and pure ethics, I am sure our readers would make an
outcry, and so I have not published this poem.

To have to say no to my betters is one of the hardest duties I have, but
I'm sure we must not publish your verses, and I go down on my knees
before cutting my victim's head off, and say, 'Madam, you know how I
respect and regard you, Browning's wife and Penini's mother; and for
what I am going to do I most humbly ask your pardon.'

My girls send their very best regards and remembrances, and I am, dear
Mrs. Browning,

Always yours,

W.M. THACKERAY.

       *       *       *       *       *


Mrs. Browning's answer follows.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To W.M. Thackeray_

Rome, 126 Via Felice: April 21, [1861].

Dear Mr. Thackeray,--Pray consider the famous 'tooth' (a wise tooth!) as
extracted under chloroform, and no pain suffered by anybody.

To prove that I am not sulky, I send another contribution, which may
prove too much, perhaps--and, if you think so, dispose of the
supererogatory virtue by burning the manuscript, as I am sure I may rely
on your having done with the last.

I confess it, dear Mr. Thackeray, never was anyone turned out of a room
for indecent behaviour in a more gracious and conciliatory manner! Also,
I confess that from your 'Cornhill' standpoint (paterfamilias looking
on) you are probably right ten times over. From mine, however, I may not
be wrong, and I appeal to you as the deep man you are, whether it is not
the higher mood, which on Sunday bears with the 'plain word,' so
offensive on Monday, during the cheating across the counter? I am not a
'fast woman.' I don't like coarse subjects, or the coarse treatment of
any subject. But I am deeply convinced that the corruption of our
society requires not shut doors and windows, but light and air: and that
it is exactly because pure and prosperous women choose to _ignore_ vice,
that miserable women suffer wrong by it everywhere. Has paterfamilias,
with his Oriental traditions and veiled female faces, very successfully
dealt with a certain class of evil? What if materfamilias, with her
quick sure instincts and honest innocent eyes, do more towards their
expulsion by simply looking at them and calling them by their names? See
what insolence you put me up to by your kind way of naming my
dignities--'Browning's wife and Penini's mother.'

And I, being vain (turn some people out of a room and you don't humble
them properly), retort with--'materfamilias!'

Our friend Mr. Story has just finished a really grand statue of the
'African Sybil.' It will place him very high.

Where are you all, Annie, Minnie?--Why don't you come and see us in
Rome?

My husband bids me give you his kind regards, and I shall send Pen's
love with mine to your dear girls.

Most truly yours,
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

We go to Florence in the latter part of May.

       *       *       *       *       *


Before leaving Florence, however, the following letter was written to
Mr. Thackeray, which I quote from the same article by Mrs. Ritchie. The
poem alluded to must, however, be 'The North and the South,'[101] Mrs.
Browning's last poem, written with reference to Hans Andersen's visit to
Rome; not 'A Musical Instrument,' as Mrs. Ritchie suggests, which had
been written some time previously.

       *       *       *       *       *


_To W.M. Thackeray_

Rome, 126 Via Felice: [May 21, 1861].

Dear Mr. Thackeray,--I hope you received my note and last poem. I hope
still more earnestly that you won't think I am putting my spite against
your chastening hand into a presumptuous and troublesome fluency.

But Hans Christian Andersen is here, charming us all, and not least the
children. So I wrote these verses--not for 'Cornhill' this month, of
course--though I send them now that they may lie over at your service
(if you are so pleased) for some other month of the summer.

We go to Florence on the first of June, and lo! here is the twenty-first
of May.

With love to dear Annie and Minny,

I remain, most truly yours,
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.


       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss I. Blagden_

Rome: Saturday, [about May 1861].

Ever dearest Isa,--Now that Robert's letter is gone, I am able for shame
to write. His waiting did not _mean_ a slackness of kindness, but a
tightness of entanglement in other things; and then absolutely he has
got to the point of doing without reading. Nothing but clay does he care
for, poor lost soul. But you will see, I hope, from what he has written
(to judge by what he speaks), that he is not so lost as to be untouched
by Agnes.[102]...

I send you, dear, two more translations for Dall' Ongaro. You will have
given him my former message. I began that letter to him, and was
interrupted; and then, considering the shortness of our time here, would
not begin another. You will have explained, and will make him thoroughly
understand, that in sending him a verbal and literal translation I never
thought of exacting such a thing from _him_, but simply of letting him
have the advantage of seeing the _raw, naked poetry as it stands_. In
fact, my translation is scarcely Italian, I know very well. I mean it
for English rather. Conventional and idiomatical Italian forms have been
expressly avoided. I have used the Italian as a net to catch the English
in for the use of an Italian poet! Let him understand.

We shall be soon in our Florence now. I am rather stronger, but so weak
still that my eyes dazzle to think of it. Povera me!

Tell Dall' Ongaro that his friend M. Carl Gruen had enough of me in one
visit. He never came again, though I prayed him to come. I have not been
equal to receiving in the evening, and perhaps he expected an
invitation. I go to bed at eight on most nights. I'm the rag of a Ba.
Yet I _am_ stronger, and look much so, it seems to me. Mr. Story is
_doing_ Robert's bust, which is likely to be a success.[103] Hatty
brought us a most charming design for a fountain for Lady Marion Alford.
The imagination is unfolding its wings in Hatty. She is quite of a mind
to spend the summer with you at Florence or elsewhere. The Storys talk
of Switzerland....

Andersen (the Dane) came to see me yesterday--kissed my hand, and seemed
in a general _verve_ for embracing. He is very earnest, very simple,
very childlike. I like him. Pen says of him, 'He is not really pretty.
He is rather like his own ugly duck, but his mind has _developed_ into a
swan.'

That wasn't bad of Pen, was it? He gets on with his Latin too. And, Isa,
he has fastened a half-franc to his button-hole, for the sake of the
beloved image, and no power on earth can persuade him out of being so
ridiculous. I was base enough to say that it wouldn't please the Queen
of Spain! And he responded, he 'chose her to know that he _did_ love
Napoleon'!

Isa, I send these two last poems that Dall' Ongaro may be aware of my
sympathy's comprehending more sides than one of Italian experience.

We have taken no apartment yet!!!

       *       *       *       *       *


_To Miss Browning_

Florence: June 7, 1861 [postmark].

I can't let Robert's disagreeable letter go alone, dearest Sarianna,
though my word will be as heavy as a stone at the bottom of it. I am
deeply sorry you should have had the vain hope of seeing Robert and Pen.
As for me, I know my place; I am only good for a drag chain. But, dear,
don't fancy it has been the fault of my _will_. In fact, I said almost
too much at Rome to Robert, till he fancied I had set my selfwill on
tossing myself up as a halfpenny, and coming down on the wrong side.
Now, in fact, it was not at all (nearly) for Arabel that I wished to go,
only I did really wish and do my best to go. He, on the other hand,
before we left Rome, had made up his mind (helped by a stray physician
of mine, whom he met in the street) that it would be a great risk to
carry me north. He (Robert) always a little exaggerates the difficulties
of travelling, and there's no denying that I have less strength than is
usual to me even at the present time. I touched the line of vexing him,
with my resistance to the decision, but he is so convinced that repose
is necessary for me, and that the lions in the path will be all asleep
by this time next year, that I yielded. Certainly he has a right to
command me away from giving him unnecessary anxieties. What does vex me
is that the dearest nonno should not see his Peni this year, and that
you, dear, should be disappointed, _on my account again_. That's hard on
us all. We came home into a cloud here. I can scarcely command voice or
hand to name _Cavour_.[104] That great soul, which meditated and made
Italy, has gone to the Diviner country. If tears or blood could have
saved him to us, he should have had mine. I feel yet as if I could
scarcely comprehend the greatness of the vacancy. A hundred Garibaldis
for such a man. There is a hope that certain solutions had been prepared
between him and the Emperor, and that events will slide into their
grooves. May God save Italy! Dear M. Milsand had pleased me so by his
appreciation, but there _are_ great difficulties. The French press, tell
him, has, on the whole, done great service, except that part of it under
the influence of the ultramontane and dynastic opposition parties. And
as to exaggerated statements, it is hard, even here, to get at the truth
(with regard to the state of the south), and many Italian liberals have
had hours of anxiety and even of despondency. English friends of ours,
very candid and liberal, have gone to Naples full of hope, and returned
hoping nothing--yet they are wrong, unless this bitter loss makes them
right--

Your loving BA--

Robert tears me away--

       *       *       *       *       *


With this letter the correspondence of Mrs. Browning, so far, at least,
as it is extant or accessible, comes to an end. The journey to Paris had
been abandoned, but it does not appear that there was any cause to
apprehend that her life could now be reckoned only by days. Yet so it
was. For the past three years, it is evident, her strength had been
giving way. Attacks of physical illness weakened her, without being
followed by any adequate rally; but more than all, the continuous stress
and strain of mental anxiety wore her strength away. The war of 1859,
the liberation of Sicily and Naples, the intense irritation of feeling
in connection with English opinion of Louis Napoleon and his policy, the
continual ebb and flow of rumours concerning Venetia and the Papal
States, the illness and death of her sister Henrietta--all these sources
of anxiety told terribly on her sensitive, emotional mind, and thereby
on her enfeebled body. The fragility of her appearance had always struck
strangers. So far back as 1851, Bayard Taylor remarked that 'her frame
seemed to be altogether disproportionate to her soul.' Her 'fiery soul'
did, indeed, with a far more literal truth than can often be the case,
fret her 'puny body to decay, and o'er-informed its tenement of clay.'
Her last illness--or, it may more truly be said, the last phase of that
illness which had been present with her for years--was neither long nor
severe; but she had no more strength left to resist it. Shortly after
her return to Casa Guidi another bronchial attack developed itself, to
all appearance just like many others that she had had before; but this
time there was no recovery.

Of the last scene no other account need be asked or wished for than
that given by Mr. Browning himself in a letter to Miss Haworth, dated
July 20, 1861.[105]

My dear Friend,--I well know you feel, as you say, for her once and for
me now. Isa Blagden, perfect in all kindness to me, will have told you
something, perhaps, and one day I shall see you and be able to tell you
myself as much as I can. The main comfort is that she suffered very
little pain, none beside that ordinarily attending the simple attacks of
cold and cough she was subject to, had no presentiment of the result
whatever, and was consequently spared the misery of knowing she was
about to leave us: she was smilingly assuring me that she was 'better,'
'quite comfortable, if I would but come to bed,' to within a few minutes
of the last. I think I foreboded evil at Rome, certainly from the
beginning of the week's illness, but when I reasoned about it, there was
no justifying fear. She said on the last evening 'It is merely the old
attack, not so severe a one as that of two years ago; there is no doubt
I shall soon recover,' and we talked over plans for the summer and next
year. I sent the servants away and her maid to bed, so little reason for
disquietude did there seem. Through the night she slept heavily and
brokenly--that was the bad sign; but then she would sit up, take her
medicine, say unrepeatable things to me, and sleep again. At four
o'clock there were symptoms that alarmed me; I called the maid and sent
for the doctor. She smiled as I proposed to bathe her feet, 'Well, you
_are_ determined to make an exaggerated case of it!' Then came what my
heart will keep till I see her again and longer--the most perfect
expression of her love to me within my whole knowledge of her. Always
smilingly, happily, and with a face like a girl's, and in a few minutes
she died in my arms, her head on my cheek. These incidents so sustain me
that I tell them to her beloved ones as their right: there was no
lingering, nor acute pain, nor consciousness of separation, but God
took her to Himself as you would lift a sleeping child from a dark
uneasy bed into your arms and the light. Thank God! Annunziata thought,
by her earnest ways with me, happy and smiling as they were, that she
must have been aware of our parting's approach, but she was quite
conscious, had words at command, and yet did not even speak of Peni, who
was in the next room. The last word was, when I asked, 'How do you
feel?' 'Beautiful.'...

So ended on earth the most perfect example of wedded happiness in the
history of literature--perfect in the inner life and perfect in its
poetical expression. It was on June 29, 1861, that Mrs. Browning died.
She was buried at Florence, where her body rests in a sarcophagus
designed by her friend and her husband's friend, Frederic Leighton, the
future President of the Royal Academy. At a later date, when her husband
was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey, her remains might have been
transferred to England, to lie with his among the great company of
English poets in which they had earned their places. But it was thought
better, on the whole, to leave them undisturbed in the land and in the
city which she had loved so well, and which had been her home so long.
In life and in death she had been made welcome in Florence. The
Italians, as her husband said, seemed to have understood her by an
instinct; and upon the walls of Casa Guidi is a marble slab, placed
there by the municipality of Florence, and bearing an inscription from
the pen of the Italian poet, Tommaseo:--

     QUI SCRISSE E MORI
     ELISABETTA BARRETT BROWNING
     CHE IN CUORE DI DONNA CONCILIAVA
     SCIENZA DI DOTTO E SPIRITO DI POETA
     E FECE DEL SUO VERSO AUREO ANELLO
     FRA ITALIA E INGHILTERRA.
     PONE QUESTA LAPIDE
     FIRENZE GRATA
     1861.

It is with words adapted from this memorial that her husband, seven
years later, closed his own great poem, praying that the 'ring,' to
which he likens it, might but--

               'Lie outside thine, Lyric Love,
    Thy rare gold ring of verse (the poet praised),
    Linking our England to his Italy.'


FOOTNOTES:

[77] This refers to the 'Curse for a Nation.'

[78] See note on p. 387. [Transcriber's note: Reference is to Footnote
[87].]

[79] Mrs. Jameson died on March 17, 1860.

[80] The surrender to France of Savoy and Nice, which, though propounded
by Napoleon to Cavour before the war, was only definitely demanded at
the end of February 1860.

[81] Rome, it will be remembered, was still under Papal government.

[82] The French general appointed by the Pope in April, 1860, to command
the Papal army.

[83] The Italian poet.

[84] So in the original, but probably a slip for 'goes abroad.'

[85] The _Cornhill Magazine_, the first number of which was published,
under Thackeray's editorship, in December 1859. Mrs. Browning's poem, 'A
Musical Instrument' (_Poetical Works_, v. 10), was published in the
number for July 1860.

[86] His 'Framley Parsonage' was then appearing in the _Cornhill_.

[87] The championship trophy of the prize ring. The great fight between
Sayers and Heenan had just taken place (April 17, 1860), and had
engrossed the interest of all England, to say nothing of America.

[88] It is not clear what this can be. Browning published nothing
between 1855 ('Men and Women') and 1864 ('Dramatis Personae'), and there
is no long poem in the latter, unless 'A Death in the Desert' and
'Sludge the Medium' may be so described. The latter is not unlikely to
have been written now, when Home's performances were rampant. His next
really long poem was 'The Ring and the Book,' which certainly had not
yet been begun.

[89] A novel by Miss Blagden.

[90] Garibaldi was now engaged in his Neapolitan campaign. Sicily
(except Messina) had been cleared of the Neapolitan troops by the end of
July, and on August 19 Garibaldi had landed in Calabria.

[91] Now in the National Portrait Gallery. A reproduction of it is given
as the frontispiece to vol. v. of the _Poetical Works_.

[92] 'A Musical Instrument'; see p. 377, above.

[93] Gaeta, the last remaining stronghold of the Neapolitan Government,
was besieged by the Italian forces from November to January. During the
first two months of the siege the French fleet prevented the Italians
from operating against it by sea, and it was ultimately through the
intervention of the English Government that Napoleon was persuaded to
withdraw his ships.

[94] Viterbo had declared for the Italian government, but had been
occupied by French troops on behalf of the Pope. Many of the inhabitants
left it, and a body of Italian volunteers entered the country in support
of them. It is presumably to this movement that the passage in the text
refers.

[95] _Poetical Works_, v. 3. The poem evidently refers to the loss of
her brother Edward, but might be supposed (being published at this
moment) to refer to the death of her sister Henrietta, shortly after
which this letter was evidently written.

[96] Gaeta fell on January 15, 1861.

[97] Mr. Val Prinsep, R.A.

[98] Mrs. Orr's _Life_ shows that this was only a temporary phase. In
later life, especially, he was very regular in his hours of poetical
work.

[99] It is curious that these are the very words which (as a translation
from the Greek) Robert Browning used ten years later as the motto of his
study of Louis Napoleon in 'Prince Hohenstiel-Schwangau'; but the
'crowning' was of a very different kind then.

    'Attempting one more labour, in a trice,
    Alack, _with ills I crowned the edifice_.'

[100] _Poetical Works_, iv. 252.

[101] _Poetical Works_, v. 6

[102] 'Agnes Tremorne,' Miss Blagden's novel.

[103] After Mrs. Browning's death, Mr. Story made a companion bust of
her, and both busts were subsequently executed in marble on the
commission of Mr. George Barrett, who presented them to Mr. R. Barrett
Browning, in whose possession they have since remained.

[104] Cavour died on June 6, 1861.

[105] Mrs. Orr's _Life and Letters of Robert Browning_, p. 249.




INDEX


Abd-el-Kader, i. 388

Aberdeen, Lord, ii. 109

About, E., ii. 226

AEschylus, i. 118, 168, 210;
  Translation of his 'Prometheus Bound,' i. 244

Agassiz, Miss, i. 458, 467, 468

Alexander, Sir William, i, 106

America, literary piracy in, i. 451;
  appreciation of Mrs. Browning's poetry, i. 118, 120, 131, 177, 178,
      218, ii. 253, 364, 387;
    of Robert Browning, ii. 436;
  the slavery question, ii. 111, 411, 417, 419, 439

Anacreon, translation from, i. 263

Ancona, i. 381

Andersen, Hans Christian, ii. 446, 448

Andrea del Sarto, i. 121

Appleton, Mr., ii. 133

Apuleius, translations from, i. 249, 250

Arnold, Dr. Thomas, i. 206, 207

Arnold, Matthew, i. 429

Arnould, Mr., ii. 16

Arqua, ii. 9

'Athenaeum,' the, i. 37, 64, 69, 71, 91, 93, 95, 117, 120, 133, 180, 193,
  207, 227, 256, 446, 469, ii. 171, 242, 243, 334, 366

'Atlas,' the, i. 64, 69, 181, 194, 199, ii. 370

Austen, Jane, ii. 217

Austria, war with France and Italy, ii. 305 ff.

Azeglio, Massimo d', ii. 308, 312, 389


Baillie, Joanna, i. 230

Balzac, H. de, i. 319, 363, 375, 428, 442, 462, ii. 71

Barnes, William, i. 223

Barrett, Alfred, brother of E.B.B., i. 2, 20, 121, ii. 18;
  marriage, ii. 207

Barrett, Arabel, sister of E.B.B., i. 2, 10, 19, 20, 39, 52, 70, 71, 76,
  77, 81, 82, 124, 242, 270, 294, ii. 12, 18, 172, 180, 210, 235, 237,
  264, 292

Barrett, Charles John ('Stormie'), brother of E.B.B., i. 2, 29, 86, 121,
  151, 152, 189, 242, 251

Barrett, Edward ('Bro'), brother of E.B.B., i. 2, 11, 14, 29, 42, 47,
    53, 55, 74, 76, 77;
  his death, 83

Barrett, Edward Moulton, father of E.B.B., i. 1, 2, 11, 27, 76, 82, 86,
    179, 291, 407, 435, 438, 439, ii. 18, 20, 178, 180, 237;
  death, 263 ff.

Barrett, afterwards Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, birth, i. 1;
    childhood and youth at Hope End, 3-6;
    removal to Sidmouth, 10;
    to London (74 Gloucester Place), 31;
    failure of health, _ib._;
    removal to 50 Wimpole Street, 56;
    publication of 'The Seraphim,' _ib._ 63;
    breaking of a blood-vessel, _ib._;
    removal to Torquay, 74;
    death of her brother Edward, 83;
    return to London, 91;
    publication of the 'Poems' of 1844, 180-188, 193 ff.;
    proposed journey to Italy in 1845, 266 ff.;
    love and marriage, 280 ff.;
    departure from England, _ib._;
    at Pisa, 302 ff.;
    Florence, 325;
    expedition to Vallombrosa, 332 ff.;
    settlement at Casa Guidi, 365, 372;
    birth of a son, 395;
    her name suggested for the Laureateship, 449, 452;
    illness, 456, 458;
    travels, ii. 1 ff.;
    publication of 'Casa Guidi Windows,' 2;
    visit to England, 13 ff.;
    residence in Paris, 22 ff.;
    the _Coup d'etat_ in France, 30 ff.;
    second visit to London, 76;
    verses by, 81;
    return to Paris, 89;
    to Florence, 91;
    first visit to Rome, 146;
    severe illness, 202;
    visit to England, 205 ff.;
    to Paris, 215 ff.;
    last visit to England, 235 ff.;
    publication of 'Aurora Leigh,' 240;
    carnival in Florence, 256 ff.;
    visit to Bagni di Lucca, 267 ff.;
    last visit to France, 280 ff.;
    winter in Rome, 292 ff.;
    the war with Austria, 305 ff.;
    summer at Siena, 319 ff.;
    severe illness, 325;
    winter in Rome, 352 ff.;
    publication of 'Poems before Congress,' 363;
    last summer at Siena, 400;
    last winter in Rome, 408 ff.;
    death, 450 ff.
  Portraits:
    by Reade, ii. 144;
    by Miss Fox, ii. 151;
    by Leighton, ii. 310;
    by Field Talfourd, ii. 404;
    bust by Story, ii. 448 _note_.
  Her knowledge of Greek literature, i. 101, 102, 242;
    opinions on religion, i. 115, 127, 159, 247, ii. 156, 420 ff.;
      on Roman Catholicism, ii. 5;
      on versification, i. 140, 156, 183;
      on female poets, i. 229-233;
      on Greek scholarship, i. 260;
      on mesmerism, i. 255-259;
      on marriage, i. 339, ii. 72, 73, 222 ff.;
      on communism, i. 363;
      on socialism, i. 467;
    protest against publication of juvenile performances, i. 454, 455,
      ii. 139;
    views on spiritualism, ii. 92, 104, 117, 125, 157 ff. (and see
        _s.v._);
      on women's work and position, ii. 189, 254, 255;
      on poetry and the public, ii. 200;
      on slavery, ii. 220;
      on growing old, ii. 140;
      on death, ii. 177, 289, 291;
      on English self-satisfaction, ii. 351.
  Works:
    'Aurora Leigh,' ii. 91, 195, 205, 228, 229, 240 ff., 302;
    'Battle of Marathon,' i. 3, 5;
    'Bertha in the Lane,' i. 247;
    'Casa Guidi Windows,' i. 348, ii. 1-3, 5, 7, 12, 13;
    'Catarina to Camoens,' ii. 200;
    'Chaucer Modernised,' i. 84, 88;
    'Child's Death at Florence,' i. 437;
    'Crowned and Buried,' i. 82, 161, 222;
    'Cry of the Children,' i. 153, 156;
    'Cry of the Human,' i. 120, 125;
    'Curse for a Nation,' ii. 364, 366, 378 ff.;
    'Dead Pan,' i. 109, 127-131, 136, 177;
    'De Profundis,' ii. 414;
    'Drama of Exile,' i. 164, 168, 170, 171, 177, 181, 185, 186;
    'English Poets,' i. 97, 105-107;
    'Essay on Mind,' i. 4, 5, 70, 94, 187;
    'Flush,' i. 153;
    'Greek Christian Poets,' i. 96-105;
    'Hector in the Garden,' i. 123;
    'House of Clouds,' i. 89, 153, 462;
    'The Island,' i. 49;
    'Isobel's Child,' i. 73, 200;
    'Lady Geraldine's Courtship,' i. 177, 181, 199, 201, 204, 211;
    'Lay of the Brown Rosary,' i. 149, 150, 161;
    'Lay of the Rose,' i. 82;
    'Lord Walter's Wife,' ii. 443;
    'Lost Bower,' i. 124, 195, 200;
    'A Musical Instrument,' ii. 377, 406;
    'My Doves,' i. 461;
    'New Spirit of the Age,' i. 163;
    'North and the South,' ii. 446;
    'Poems,' of 1844, i. 164, 165, 180;
    'Poems,' collected edition, i. 427, 436;
    'Poems before Congress,' ii. 356, 361, 362, 363 ff., 368, 374, 399;
    'Poet's Vow,' i. 36-39, 43, 49;
    'A Portrait,' i. 190;
    'Prometheus Bound,' i. 16, 18, 21, 135, 188;
    'Psyche Apocalypte,' i. 84;
    'Rhyme of the Duchess May,' i. 186, 247;
    'Romance of the Ganges,' i. 52;
    'Romaunt of Margret,' i. 36, 49, 64;
    'Romaunt of the Page,' i. 61, 62;
    'Runaway Slave,' i. 315, 462;
    'Seamew,' i. 38, 461;
    'The Seraphim,' i. 38, 39, 44, 45, 49, 56, 62-73, 110, 185, 188,
      193;
    'Song for the Ragged Schools,' ii. 185;
    'Sonnets from the Portuguese,' i. 316, 317;
    'Sounds,' i. 73;
    'Stanzas on Mrs. Hemans,' i. 33;
    'Tale of Villafranca,' ii. 333 ff.;
    'Vision of Poets,' i. 157;
    'Wine of Cyprus,' i. 178, 183

Barrett, George, brother of E.B.B., i. 2, 29, 32, 33, 35, 37, 78, 151,
  166, 242, ii. 19, 263, 264

Barrett, afterwards Cook, Henrietta, sister of E.B.B., i. 2, 15, 17, 18,
    19, 20, 21, 28, 33, 41, 46, 52, 53, 55, 75, 76, 77, 242, 294, 338,
    443 ff., ii. 18, 207, 210, 239, 376, 400;
  illness and death, ii. 401, 405, 414 ff.

Barrett, Henry, brother of E.B.B., i. 2, 27, 55, 189, 242, ii. 18

Barrett, Octavius, brother of E.B.B., i. 2, 8, 15, 20, 173, 271, 275,
  ii. 18

Barrett, Septimus ('Sette'), brother of E.B.B., i. 2, 11, 14, 20, ii. 18

Bate, Miss Gerardine (Mrs. Macpherson), i. 285, 310

Bayley, Miss, i. 262, 362, ii. 232, 233, 240

Bellosguardo, ii. 125, 259

Beranger, ii. 49, 230, 231

'Blackwood's Magazine,' i. 181, 210, 213, ii. 253, 255, 387;
  poems by Mrs. Browning in, i. 304, 307, 314

Blagden, Miss Isa, i. 456, ii. 266, 267;
  letters to, i. 456, 467, ii. 3, 98, 124, 144, 243, 283, 290, 302, 308,
    320, 339, 365, 371, 373, 375, 389, 411, 414, 418, 428, 431, 447

Bowring, Sir John, ii. 410, 412, 440

Boyd, Hugh Stuart, i. 9, 17, 20;
  death, i. 368;
  letters to, i. 23, 24, 29, 32, 37, 38, 39, 44, 45, 57, 60, 61, 68, 69,
    70, 72, 73, 77, 79, 81, 88, 89, 91, 93, 95-107, 109, 114-120, 124,
    125, 138-142, 152, 154, 171, 173, 175, 176, 179, 183, 184, 192, 200,
    225, 242, 246, 250, 264, 270, 279, 314, 330

Boyd, Mrs. H.S., letter to, i. 8;
  death, i. 29

Boyle, Miss, i. 347, 352

Bracken, Miss A., ii. 267, 271

Braun, Dr., ii. 195

Braun, Mdme., _see_ Thomson

Brizieux, Auguste, ii. 101

Bronte, Charlotte, her 'Jane Eyre,' i. 360, 384, 432, 435;
  'Shirley,' i. 429, 430, 442;
  'Villette,' ii. 139, 142

Brotherton, Mrs., medium, ii. 157

Browning, Miss, ii. 121;
  letters to i. 321, 369, 396, 397, 402, 408, 432, 477, ii. 93, 142,
    161, 167, 179, 202, 239, 241, 250, 256, 267, 268, 294, 295, 297,
    307, 310, 313, 317, 319, 341, 352, 368, 396, 433, 440, 448

Browning, Mrs., senior, her death, i. 396 ff.

Browning, R., senior, ii. 162, 314

Browning, Robert, i. 2, 5, 84, 104, 131, 133, 143, 150, 161, 163, 214,
    236, 238, 246, 254, 275, 278 and _passim_ thereafter;
  letters from, i. 334, 356, 379, 417, 423, 470, ii. 263, 267, 295, 302,
    450;
  portrait, by Reade, ii. 143;
    by Fisher, ii. 160, 163;
    by Page, ii. 171, 233, 316;
    by Leighton, ii. 310;
  bust by Story, ii. 448;
  early engraving, i. 335;
  American appreciation of his work, ii. 436;
  want of appreciation in England, ii. 370.
  Works:
    'Bells and Pomegranates,' i. 320;
    'A Blot in the 'Scutcheon,' i. 391, 393;
    'Christmas Eve and Easter Day,' i. 427, 432, 446, 449;
    'Colombe's Birthday,' i. 264, ii. 91, 103, 112, 115, 116, 119;
    'A Guardian Angel,' i. 380;
    'In a Balcony,' ii. 121;
    Introduction to Shelley's 'Letters,' ii. 52;
    'Men and Women,' ii. 205, 209, 218;
    'Pippa Passes,' i. 264;
    'Poems,' new edition, 1849, i. 361, 391;
    'Sordello,' i. 264, ii. 228;
    'Strafford,' ii. 436

Browning, Robert Wiedeman Barrett ('Penini'), i. 5, 395, and _passim_
  thereafter

Brunnyng, Robert, i. 371

Bulwer, Edward Lytton, afterwards first Lord Lytton, i. 16, 17, 36, 212,
  ii. 103, 145, 207

Burges, George, i. 102, 168

Byron, Lord, his poetry, i. 113, 115


Calvinism, thoughts on, i. 115

Carlyle, Thomas, i. 99, 136, 194, 199. 315, 338, ii. 16, 25, 27, 210

Carlyle, Mrs., ii. 78

Cartwright, W.C., ii. 346

Casa Guidi, i. 365, 372

Castellani, ii. 354

Cavour, ii. 360, 384;
  death, ii. 449

Chalmers, Dr., i. 53

Chambers, Dr., i. 57, 61, 68, 69, 71, 72, 269

Chasles, M. Philaret, ii. 43

Chaucer, Geoffrey, i. 128

Chorley, H.F., i. 71, 180, 187, 207, 307, 311, 320, 453-455, ii. 137,
    173, 183;
  his 'Pomfret,' i. 271;
  'Roccabella,' ii. 350;
  letters to, i. 191, 229, 230, 234, 255, 257, 271, 375, 393, 420, 432,
    446, ii. 79, 127, 334, 350, 378, 380

Clive, Mrs. Archer, ii. 154

Clough, A.H., i. 426, 429

Cobbe, Miss, ii. 377, 398

Cobden, R., i. 223, 327, ii. 356, 387

Cocks, Lady Margaret, i. 43

Coleridge, S.T., i. 110, 141

Coleridge, Mrs., i. 145

Commeline, Miss, letters to, i. 7, 26, 53, 240

Como, ii. 9

Cook, Surtees, i. 338, 443

Cook, Mrs. Surtees, _see_ Barrett, Henrietta

'Cornhill Magazine,' ii. 377, 423, 443 ff.

Corn Law League, i. 220, 223, 239, 240

Correggio, ii. 9

Crimea, war in the, ii. 179, 181, 183, 186, 189, 203

Crosse, Andrew, i. 72

Crystal Palace, the, ii. 24

Cumming, Dr., ii. 194

Cushman, Miss, i. 320, ii. 90, 128

Cyprus, wine of, i, 175, 179, 248, 250, 315


Dacre, Lady, i. 51, 68, 72

'Daily News,' the, i. 275

Dall' Ongaro, ii. 374, 375, 430, 447

Da Vinci, Leonardo, ii. 9

Dawson, Mr., ii. 429

De Quincey, i. 161

Dickens, Charles, i. 121, 123, 275, ii. 32, 229, 395

Dilke, C.W., editor of the 'Athenaeum,' i. 97, 107, 117, 134, 228, 446

Disraeli, Benjamin, his 'Coningsby,' i. 203, 205

Dryden, John, i. 107, 110

'Dublin Review,' the, i. 242

Dumas, Alexandre, i. 2, 319, 357, 419, 425, 462, ii. 40, 64, 86, 99,
    182;
  his 'Monte Cristo,' ii. 301, 304

Dumas, A., fils, 'La Dame aux Camelias,' ii. 66, 106


Eagles, Mr., i. 201, 211

Eastlake, Lady, ii. 27

Eckley, Mrs., ii. 150, 296, 298

Elgin, Lady, ii. 24, 26, 221, 286, 290, 368

Eliot, George, ii. 338, 388, 400

England, politics in, ii. 278, 316

'Essays and Reviews,' ii. 427

Eugenie, Empress, ii. 101

'Examiner,' the, i. 64, 70, 180, 199, 204

Exhibition of 1851, the, i. 466


Fano, i. 380

Fanshawe, Miss, i. 464

Faraday, Professor, on spiritualism, ii. 122 ff., 128, 247

Faucit, Helen (Lady Martin), ii. 103, 119

Fauveau, Mdlle. de, i. 360, 378

Ferdinando IV., Duke of Tuscany, ii. 340

Ferucci, Professor, i. 303

'Finden's Tableaux,' i. 52, 61

Fisher, A., artist, ii. 160, 163

Flaubert, G., 'Madame Bovary,' ii. 151, 304

Florence, i. 326, 331, 343, ii. 96;
  the Tuscan National Guard, i. 344, 346;
  revolutions, i. 400 ff., 405

Flush, Miss Barrett's dog, i. 100, 105, 107, 149, 154, 155, 207, 224,
  298, 307, 324, 342, 346, 357, 382

Forster, John, i. 180, 204, 329, ii. 16, 186, 286;
  letter to, ii. 383

Fox, Miss, ii. 151

France, the _Coup d'etat_, ii. 32 ff.;
  politics in, i. 363, 368, 374, 383, 386, 389, 400, ii. 42, 48, 61, 70,
    230;
  war with Austria, 305 ff.

Fuller, Margaret (Mme. Ossoli), i. 428, 445;
  death, i. 459 ff.;
  her character, ii. 59


Gaeta, siege of, ii. 413, 418

Garibaldi, Giuseppe, ii. 318, 338, 398, 402, 416, 441

Gaskell, Mrs., ii. 259;
  her 'Mary Barton,' i. 471, 472;
  'Ruth,' ii. 139, 141

Genoa, ii. 94, 95

Ghirlandaio, i. 448

Gibson, J., artist, ii. 148

Girardin, Emile de, ii. 30, 38

Goethe, i. 474

Graham-Clarke (afterwards Barrett), Mary,
  mother of E.B.B., i. 2, 6, 7

Gregory Nazianzen, i. 45, 92, 94, 97, 98, 100, 104, 146;
  his 'De Virginitate,' i. 78, 92

Gresonowsky, Dr., ii. 321, 326, 341, 355

'Guardian,' the, ii. 13

Guercino, i. 380, 441


Hanford, Mrs., i. 33, 87

Harding, Dr., i. 401, 458, 462, ii. 183

Havre, ii. 287 ff.

Haworth, Miss E.F., i. 322, ii. 21, 242;
  letters to, ii. 21, 118, 135, 149, 222, 234, 266, 272, 273, 281, 285,
    322, 348, 354, 386, 393, 405, 408, 420, 424, 450

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, ii. 132, 304, 307, 310

Haydon, B.R., i. 146;
  his portrait of Wordsworth, i. 112;
  suicide, i. 278, 279;
  biography, ii. 161

Hazard, Mr., ii. 355

Heaton, Miss, ii. 150, 151

Hedley, Mr., i. 359

Hemans, Mrs., i. 232, 234

Hesiod, translations from, i. 262

Hillard, Mr., i. 378

Homer, i. 118, 125

Hook, Theodore, i. 44, 161, 253

Hope End, home of Mrs. Browning, i. 3

Horne, R. II., i. 3, 5, 36, 74, 78, 80, 81, 84, 85, 104, 133, 153, 174,
  182, 199, 214, 308, 339, 345, 353, 368, 431, 452, ii. 31;
  his 'Orion,' i. 145, 148, 150;
  'The New Spirit of the Age,' i. 163

Hosmer, Miss, ii. 166, 168, 344, 388, 392

Howe, Mrs., ii. 166, 170

Howitt, Mary, i. 320

Howitt, William, i. 216, ii. 403, 406

Hugo, Victor, i. 123, ii. 90, 230, 260-262

Hume (_al._ Home), spiritualistic medium, ii. 196, 201, 226, 266, 280

Hunt, Leigh, i. 84, 216, 452, ii. 253


Italian Literature, i. 309, 312

Italy, politics in, i. 348, 357, 359, 373, 383, 386, 388, 400, 409, 416,
  439, ii. 96, 114, 311, 326 ff., 340, 346, 361, 367, 372, 382, 389,
  402, 413


Jameson, Mrs., i. 104, 194, 199, 216, 217, 226, 238, 239, 284, 285, 296,
  298, 299, 301, 307, 326, 327, ii. 16, 196;
  her 'Legends of the Monastic Orders,' i. 440;
  death, ii. 365;
  letters to, i. 227, 273, 328, 354 376, 414, 421, 440, 448, ii. 32, 57,
    65, 80, 107, 109, 146, 187, 208, 220, 227, 228, 232, 236, 245, 251,
    258, 269, 270, 345, 360, 364

Jerrold, Douglas, i. 203, 239

Jewsbury, Miss, i. 465, ii. 27

John Mauropus, i. 103

John of Damascus, i. 97

John of Euchaita, i. 104


Keats, John, i. 188

Kemble, Fanny (Mrs. Butler), i. 466, ii. 16, 154, 158, 159, 167, 196

Kenyon, John, i. 2, 32, 51, 58, 67, 68, 102, 104, 112, 121, 153, 166,
    172, 173, 202, 203, 205, 233, 265, 288, 290, 295, 297, 308, 310, 311,
    353, 375, 420, 426, ii. 16, 77, 87, 197, 223, 224, 232, 233, 235, 238,
    239;
  death, ii. 241, 245;
  legacy to Mr. and Mrs. Browning, ii. 241, 246, 248;
  letters to, i. 58, 59, 108, 127, 129, 136, 143, 145, 167-169, 187,
    203, 207, 209, 211, 223, 239, 245, 248, 249, 361, ii. 7, 52, 89, 95,
    115

Kinglake, A.W., ii. 186, 210, 429;
  his 'E[=o]then,' i. 216

Kingsley, Charles, ii. 83, 85, 86, 134

Kinney, Mr. W.B., ii. 126

Kinney, Mrs. W.B., letter to, ii. 244

Kirkup, Mr., i. 440, 448, ii. 253, 395

Knowles, Sheridan, i. 43, 47, 48

Kossuth, ii. 115


Lamartine, i. 375, 425, ii. 30, 57, 64, 71, 133

Lamoriciere, General, ii. 368, 372, 377, 393

Landon, L.E., i. 232

Landor, Walter Savage, i. 43, 47, 55, 117, 137, ii. 78, 186, 286, 323,
    324, 336, 343, 349, 353, 395, 397, 403;
  verses to Robert Browning, i. 275

Langland, W. (Piers Plowman), i. 105

Leighton, Frederic, ii. 197, 210, 233, 452

Lever, Charles, i. 413, 417, 465, 473

Lockhart, J.G., ii. 154, 159, 163

London, residence of the Barretts in, i. 31-56 (74 Gloucester Place),
  56-74, 91-279 (50 Wimpole Street)

Longfellow, H.W., i. 454

Louis Philippe, King of the French, i. 203, 206

Lowell, J.R., i. 251

Lucca, Bagni di, ii. 121 ff., 267 ff., 411 ff.

Lucerne, ii. 10

Luther, ii. 426

Lynch, Miss, ii. 144

Lytton, Sir Edward, _see_ Bulwer

Lytton, Robert, ii. 97, 99, 103, 113, 125, 126, 142, 145;
  illness, ii. 267 ff.


Macauley, T.B., i. 209, 408

Maclise, D., i. 119

Macpherson, James, and Ossian, i. 118, 126

Macready, W., ii. 229, 393

MacSwiney, Mr., i. 9, 73

Mahony, F., _see_ Prout

Manning, Dr. (afterwards Cardinal), ii. 410

Mario, Jessie (_nee_ White), ii. 277, 321, 338, 347, 442

Marlowe, Christopher, i. 107

Marsh, Mr., American Minister at Constantinople, ii. 102, 105

Martin, James, letters to, i. 122, 219. (_See also_ Martin, Mrs.,
  letters to)

Martin, Mrs. James, letters to, i. 6, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21, 27, 33, 41,
  46, 50, 75, 85, 86, 110, 120, 137, 143, 147, 165, 189, 193, 196, 202,
  205, 215, 216, 221, 236, 237, 251, 266, 267, 274, 276, 277, 286, 300,
  325, 335, 371, 387, 404, 437, 475, ii. 13, 17, 19, 34, 41, 74, 83,
  113, 140, 180, 184, 192, 211, 212, 225, 236, 248, 254, 263, 264, 277,
  324, 357, 400, 415, 438

Martineau, Harriet, i. 59, 151, 161, 169, 194, 196, 199, 200, 202, 205,
  212, 217, 219, 220, 225, 227, 256, 276, 352, 355, 387, ii. 403

Mathew, Mrs., i. 25

Mathews, Cornelius, letters to, i. 132, 198, 213

Maurice, F.D., ii. 177

Maynooth, the grant question, i. 252

Mazzini, G., ii. 78, 109, 115, 277, 279

Mesmerism, i. 196, 200, 202, 205, 212, 217, 219, 220, 236, 238, 255-259

'Metropolitan Magazine,' the, i. 243, 245, 248

Milan, ii. 9

Mill, John Stuart, i. 467

Milnes, Monckton, i. 217, 308, ii. 79, 84, 134, 230, 376

Milsand, M. Joseph, ii. 29, 43, 108, 173, 242, 250, 275, 284, 314, 399,
  449

Mitford, Miss M.R., i. 32, 43, 46, 47, 50, 51, 52, 55, 66, 78, 83, 104,
    108, 111, 131, 137, 153, 154, 161, 167, 205, 220, ii. 12;
  death, ii. 191;
  character and genius, ii. 216, 217;
  her 'Otto,' i. 47, 48;
  'Recollections,' i. 453, 464, ii. 43, 45 ff., 58, 60;
  'Atherton,' ii. 165, 171, 173, 175;
  dramas, ii. 175;
  letters to, i. 67, 297, 304, 311, 318, 339, 345, 349, 356, 358, 365,
    373, 379, 384, 399, 410, 423, 427, 430, 434, 443, 450, 453, 458,
    463, 470, ii. 5, 25, 28, 38, 45, 49, 62, 69, 76, 77, 84, 87, 100,
    105, 122, 132, 152, 159, 164, 169, 171, 174, 176

Mohl, Mme., ii. 24, 42, 66, 221

Montgomery, Robert, i. 265

Moore, Thomas, ii. 102, 141

Mulock, Miss, letters to, ii. 44, 67, 72; ii. 79

Murray, Miss, i. 253

Musset, Alfred de, ii. 64, 100


Napoleon, Louis (Napoleon III.), i. 375, 386, 389, 400, 406, 419, 428,
   429, ii. 22, 30, 33 ff., 51, 54, 90, 110, 114, 181, 219, 230, 276,
   306, 307, 309, 317, 323, 326, 327, 331, 335, 339, 373, 383 ff., 393,
   413, 429, 433, 440;
 letter to, ii. 261

Napoleon, Prince, ii. 437

Napoleon Buonaparte (Napoleon I.), i. 82

Newman, J.H., i. 210

'New Monthly Magazine,' i. 36, 37, 40, 44, 49

'New Quarterly,' the, i. 229

Nightingale, Florence, ii. 188

Nonnus, translations from, i. 261

'North American Review,' i. 109

Novara, battle of, i. 409


O'Connell, Daniel, i. 50, 195

Ogilvy, Mr. and Mrs., i. 440, 445, ii. 4

Orsay, Count d', i. 222

Orsini, his attempt on Napoleon III., ii. 276 ff.

Ossian, i. 117-120, 125, 126

Ossoli, Mme., _see_ Fuller


Padua, ii. 9

Page, W., artist, ii. 128, 148, 155, 171, 307, 315, 388

Pantaleonie, Diomed, ii. 389, 432

Paris, i. 299, ii. 11, 23, 65, 281, 284, 285

Parker, Theodore, ii. 355, 388

Patmore, Coventry, ii. 112, 134, 138, 184, 255

Paulus Silentiarius, i. 103, 104

Petrarch, ii. 9

Phelps, S., i. 391, 393

Phillpotts, Henry, Bishop of Exeter, i. 50, 74

Pisa, i. 302, 330

Pisida, George, i. 103

Pius IX., Pope, i. 344, 391, 392, 420

Plato, i. 101, 119, 170

Poe, E.A., i. 249

Pope, Alexander, i. 107

Powers, Hiram, sculptor, i. 334, 347, 378, ii. 97, 120, 131

Procter, Mr. (Barry Cornwall), ii. 16

Prout, Father, i. 355, 385, 392, ii. 286

'Punch,' i. 203


'Quarterly Review,' i. 65

Quinet, Edgar, ii. 101


Ravenna, i. 381

Reade, Charles, ii. 271, 357

Reynolds, Mrs., i. 351

Ristori, Mme., ii. 228

Rogers, Samuel, i. 190, 221, 222, ii. 16

Romagnoli, Ferdinando, ii. 208, 251

Rome, ii. 154, 165, 352 ff.

Rossi, Count Pellegrino, i. 392

Rousseau, J.J., ii. 293

Ruskin, John, i. 384, 386, ii. 87, 169, 170, 210, 253, 268, 414;
  letters to, ii. 190, 198, 214, 216, 299, 302, 315

Russell, Lord John, ii. 109

Russell, Odo, ii. 309, 332, 339, 359, 376


Ste.-Beuve, C.A., ii. 101

Salvini, ii. 319

Sand, George, i. 233, 357, 363, 425, 428, ii. 26, 29, 39, 50, 51, 55-57,
  59, 60, 63, 66, 70, 76, 222, 230

Sardinia, war with Austria, i. 374, 409

Sartoris, Mrs. (Adelaide Kemble), ii. 154, 159, 167, 179, 182

'Saturday Review,' ii. 365, 375, 387, 403

Sayers, Tom, ii. 365, 387, 400

Scott, Sir Walter, i. 126

Scully, Dr., i. 76, 86, 87, 90, 111

Seward, Anna, i. 231

Sewell, Miss, ii. 429, 430

Sidmouth, residence of the Barretts at, i. 10-30

Siena, i. 456 ff., ii. 319 ff., 342

Sigourney, Mrs., i. 251

Slavery, abolition of, in West Indies, i. 21, 23

Smith, Alexander, ii. 112, 120, 134, 138, 161

Soulie, Frederic, i. 387, 466;
  his 'Saturnin Fichet,' i. 318

Southey, Mrs., i. 138

Southey, Robert, i. 170

Spiritualism, ii. 92, 99, 102, 117, 120, 121, 122, 125, 133, 137, 149,
  157, 158, 193, 247, 356, 395, 421 ff.

Stanhope, Lord, ii. 79

Story, Mr. and Mrs. W.W., ii. 130, 132, 143, 294, 334, 411, 446;
  death of their child, ii. 147, 152

Stowe, Mrs. Beecher, ii. 107, 110, 183, 258, 408, 409, 421, 424

Stuart, Mr., i. 416, 422, 441, 448

Sue, Eugene, ii. 31, 40, 41

Sumner, Charles, ii. 286

Swedenborg, ii. 21, 145, 156, 424

Synesius, i. 96, 100, 104


Talfourd, Serjeant, i. 133, 197, 393, ii. 31;
  his 'Ion,' i. 43, 47, 48

Tennyson, Alfred, i. 84, 150, 157, 160, 161, 215, 264, 324, 339, 345,
    434, 456, ii. 15, 84, 86, 88, 205, 213, 419;
  his 'Poems,' of 1842, i. 108, 109;
  'Locksley Hall,' i. 204;
  'The Princess,' i. 361, 367, 429, 431;
  'In Memoriam,' i. 453, 465, 471, 472;
  'Maud,' ii. 209, 213

Tennyson, Frederick, ii. 99, 112, 113, 123, 125, 126

Terni, ii. 152, 295, 296

Teynham, Lord, i. 243

Thackeray, W.M., ii. 148, 154, 253, 377, 391, 408;
  his 'Vanity Fair,' i. 401;
  letters from, ii. 444, 446;
  letter to, ii. 445

Thierry, M., ii. 75

Thiers, M., ii. 33

Thomson, Miss (Mme. Braun) i. 58, 431;
  letters to, i. 260, 261, ii. 195, 288

'Times,' the, ii. 279, 317, 319, 329

Tommaseo, N., inscription in honour of Mrs. Browning, ii. 452

Torquay, Miss Barrett's residence at, i. 74-90

Trollope, Anthony, ii. 377, 391

Trollope, Mrs., i. 17, 476, ii. 173, 177, 226

Tyndal, Mrs. Acton, i. 351


Vallombrosa, i. 332 ff.

Vaucluse, i. 285, 323

Venice, ii. 6, 8

Ventnor, ii. 236, 239

Viardot, Mme., ii. 75, 76

Victoria, Queen, i. 222, 253

Villafranca, conference of, ii. 319, 320, 323, 324, 330


Wales, H.R.H. the Prince of, ii. 309, 312

Ware, Mr., i. 378

Webbe, General W., i. 451

Wellington, Duke of, ii. 163

'Westminster Review,' the, i. 194, 199, 215

Westwood, Thomas, i. 94, 473;
  letters to, i. 94, 114, 149, 150, 157. 159, 160, 162, 174, 175, 185,
    190, 224, 244, 253, 264, 323, 342, 468, ii. 138, 155

Wetherell, Elizabeth, her 'Queechy,' ii. 134

Wilde, Mr., ii. 344

Wilson, Mrs. Browning's maid, i. 283, 319, &c.

Wiseman, Mrs., i. 380

Wordsworth, William, i. 43, 47, 55, 60, 84, 160, 161, 252, 253, 267;
  death, i. 449;
  letter from, i. 113;
  his poetry, i. 110, 113, 119, 138, 141, 201;
  his portrait by Haydon, i. 112, 113;
    Miss Barrett's sonnet on it, i. 113


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