3389.  EBB to Anne Braun

As published in The Brownings’ Correspondence, 20, 185–186.

43 Via Bocca di Leone

Monday morning. [17 April 1854][1]

Dearest Mrs Braun I am ashamed to send back all three tickets—yet what can be done? We have entirely failed in getting any of them “off”– Mrs Sartoris was so disappointed in the execution of the similar concert last year that she declines having anything to do with this– And even for ourselves .. Robert is forced to go out in deference to an engagement which he had left out of thought at the moment of talking to you about the concert, and I who might have been brave enough to go alone, as you may suggest, have so bad a headache with the exertions of yesterday (for besides being blessed & squeezed in the morning,[2] I was on the piazza of St Peters in the evening)[3] that I scarcely know whether I shall get up a little brightness by tonight to enable me to face the fireworks, which we are engaged to see from Mr Cass’s windows–[4]

You will observe that I am writing one word for another & not spelling at all, as a symptom of my lost state.

What of the Miserere? I was there & looked round for you in vain. They say it was the wrong music, but right or wrong I was entirely struck & overcome by it—& thought it wonderfully fine.

Your very affectionate

Elizabeth B Browning

Address: All’Illma Signora / La Signora Braun / Casa Tarpeia.

Publication: None traced.

Manuscript: Armstrong Browning Library.

1. Date provided by EBB’s references to her “exertions” of Easter Sunday, which in 1854 fell on 16 April.

2. See letter 3387, note 2.

3. EBB refers to the illuminations of St. Peter’s, which, according to Murray’s A Handbook for Travellers in Central Italy (1853), begins at 7 p.m. on Easter Sunday, “but it is necessary for carriages to go there some time before to obtain a place. At 8 p.m. the whole bursts out into a brilliant running flame, which is seen beautifully either from the Piazza of St. Peter’s or the Pincian Hill” (part II, 112). “Every column, cornice, and frieze, the bands of the dome, and all the details of the building to the summit of the cross, are lit up with lines of lamps, and its gigantic architecture stands out against the dark sky in a complete firmament of fire” (p. 108).

4. The fireworks take place on Easter Monday between 8 and 9 p.m. at Monte Pincio “and is, perhaps, the finest exhibition of fireworks in the world; and can be well seen from the seats erected on the occasion in the Piazza del Popolo” (Handbook, part II, 112). Lewis Cass, Jr. is listed in the Brownings’ address book of this period (AB-3) at 117 Piazza del Popolo.


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